ATHENS-----The second-ranked Georgia men's tennis team advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Championships with a 4-0 win over Northwestern at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex Saturday. The third-seeded Bulldogs will face the No. 14 seed Oklahoma Thursday, May 16 at 10 a.m. ET in Champaign, Ill.
Georgia is now 28-4 in the NCAA Tournament dating back to 2007, and this marks the Bulldogs' 10th straight trip to the round of 16.
Freshman Austin Smith clinched the win with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 win at No. 3 as the Bulldogs improved to 14-0 at home this season. It was the second straight clincher for Smith, and all six of Georgia's singles wins this weekend came from freshmen and sophomores.
"I was really happy with the way we played because Northwestern is a really good team," said UGA coach Manuel Diaz. "They challenged us at doubles at all three spots, and it was very competitive at each and every match. I'm really proud of our guys as we move on to the final site. It's an exciting time for our program. We'll have a good practice here on Monday before we head up to Champaign."
For the 20th time this season, Georgia won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. At No. 1, fifth-ranked Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland downed Alex Pasareanu and Spencer Wolf, 8-3, then the 15th-ranked tandem of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha clinched the point with an 8-4 win over Mihir Kumar and Raleigh Smith at No. 2.
Eric Diaz and Marco Nunez led Sidarth Balaji and Chris Jackman, 6-4, at No. 3 when the doubles point was clinched.
In singles, 33rd-ranked Wagland improved to 3-0 at the No. 1 spot with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Wolf, then No. 47 Pasha topped No. 87 Smith, 6-2, 6-3, to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. Smith then registered his fourth match clincher with his win over Balaji at No. 3.
Matches at Nos. 4 and 5 were suspended in the third set, while Marco Nunez was looking to force a third set at No. 6.
"It feels great," Wagland said. "Everyone has been working hard throughout the year to achieve this goal. We still have a lot of work to do in Illinois, so hopefully we can get a few more wins."
Northwestern ends its season at 22-10.
The NCAA Championships will begin in at the University of Illinois Thursday with the men's round of 16. The women's round of 16 matches are slated for Friday, and the finals for both genders will be played Tuesday, May 21. The singles and doubles portion of the tournament will begin May 22. Georgia will be aiming for its seventh NCAA title.
Georgia 4, Northwestern 0
1. #5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. Alex Pasareanu/Spencer Wolf (NU), 8-3
2. #15 Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Mihir Kumar/Raleigh Smith (NU), 8-4
3. Eric Diaz/Marco Nunez (UGA) vs. Sidarth Balaji/Chris Jackman (NU), 6-4, unfinished
Order of finish: 1,2
1. #33 Ben Wagland (UGA) def. Spencer Wolf (NU), 6-3, 6-4
2. #47 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. #87 Raleigh Smith (NU), 6-2, 6-3
3. Austin Smith (UGA) def. Sidarth Balaji (NU), 6-1, 4-6, 6-4
4. #115 Hernus Pieters (UGA) vs. Mihir Kumar (NU), 4-6, 6-3, 1-2, unfinished
5. Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Alex Pasareanu (NU), 7-6(3), 3-2, unfinished
6. Marco Nunez (UGA) vs. Chris Jackman (NU), 5-7, 5-4, unfinished
Order of finish: 1,2,3*