Georgia Faces Texas A&M In Battle Of SEC Leaders
ATHENS-----The third-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team will play host to No. 12 Texas A&M Sunday at 1 p.m. in a matchup of the SEC’s two division leaders. The Bulldogs (14-4, 6-1) lead Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt by two matches in the SEC East, while the Aggies (13-8, 4-2 SEC) lead second place Ole Miss in the Western Division.
Georgia is coming off a pair of road wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky last weekend, while Texas A&M visits Tennessee Friday before coming to Athens. The Aggies fell to four-time defending national champion Southern Cal Monday in Los Angeles.
Live scoring will be available at Georgiadogs.com.
LOOKING AT THE AGGIES: Texas A&M came in at No. 12 in this week’s ITA national rankings. Georgia will mark the third-straight top-five opponent for the Aggies, who fell to then-No. 3 Southern Cal, 6-1, on Monday. Texas A&M and fifth-ranked Tennessee will square off Friday in Knoxville.
Jeremy Efferding leads the Aggies with 19 wins, followed by Shane Vinsant with 18 and Harrison Adams and Jordan Szabo with 17 apiece.
In the rankings, Efferding is No. 40, Vinsant is 93rd, Peter Nagy is No. 96, while Jackson Withrow came in at No. 118 this week.
In doubles, Junior Ore and Withrow are ranked 11th nationally, and the tandem of Adams and Vinsant is ranked 25th.
This is only the third all-time meeting between Georgia and Texas A&M. The last time the teams met was in the 2002 NCAA Tournament when the Bulldogs advanced with a 4-1 win.
LAST TIME OUT: Georgia capped an impressive weekend by knocking off fourth-ranked Kentucky, 4-2, last Sunday afternoon at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington.
The Bulldogs entered the weekend tied with Vanderbilt and Kentucky atop the SEC Eastern Division, and notched road wins over both teams to gain sole possession of first place in the overall league standings.
With the win, Georgia also avenged an earlier loss to Kentucky in the ITA National Indoor Tournament in February. Last week’s match was also played indoors due to inclement weather in Lexington. Austin Smith clinched the win with a thrilling three-set victory at No. 4.
SMITH NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Austin Smith was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Wednesday following his performance in Georgia’s wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky last weekend.The Cumming, Ga., native helped the Bulldogs gain sole possession of first place in the conference race clinched both wins at No. 4 singles. Against No. 13 Vanderbilt on Friday he used a straight-set win over Marc van deer Merwe to seal the victory for Georgia, while at No. 4 Kentucky he used a gutsy-three set decision over Grant Roberts to give the Bulldogs their fourth point. Smith is 12-3 in dual matches and 5-1 in SEC play, and is currently riding a five-match wining streak. It was the second straight honor for a Georgia rookie as Ben Wagland was named SEC Freshman of the Week on March 20.
YOUNG PUPS: Georgia has gotten strong play at the outset of the season from the team’s freshmen. Rookie Ben Wagland has compiled an 19-7 mark overall and an 11-4 record in dual matches, including a clinch vs. VCU to send Georgia back to National Indoors. He owns a team-high five match clinchers. Austin Smith is 19-6 overall and 12-3 in duals with four clinchers, while Nick Wood was out to a 4-1 start before suffering an ankle injury.
Marco Nunez has won the first five dual matches he played in.
At No. 64 in singles and No. 6 in doubles, Wagland is currently the highest-ranked freshman in the SEC in both polls.
IN THE RANKINGS: Following a weekend sweep of two top-15 SEC opponents on the road and winners of nine of their last 10 matches, the Georgia men’s tennis team surged to a season-high No. 3 national ranking this week. Georgia was previously No. 6 and had been as high as fifth in the country in 2013.
Senior KU Singh continues to lead Georgia in singles with a No. 11 ranking. Singh has a 13-7 overall record and a team-best nine wins over ranked opponents in 2012-13. Behind him, sophomore Nathan Pasha came in at No. 53 this week after winning two matches over the weekend to sit with a team-leading 23 wins on the season. Freshman Ben Wagland rose to a career-high No. 64 in singles this week, sitting at 19-7 overall and 11-4 in dual matches.
In doubles, Georgia’s team of Wagland and junior Hernus Pieters are No. 6 this week, while the team of Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux are No. 41. Additionally, Pasha is ranked No. 63 with Singh. Wagland remains the highest-ranked SEC freshman in both polls.
Georgia has been ranked in the ITA top-10 every week since March 29, 2011.