ATHENS, Ga. --- The second-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team (24-4) punched its ticket to the final site of the 2013 NCAA Championships, winning its first and second round matches this past weekend in Athens, each by 4-0 scores, to advance to the round of 16. The third-seeded Bulldogs will face off against the No. 14 seed Oklahoma Sooners (21-6) on Thurs., May 16 at 10 a.m. ET at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. A win would send the Bulldogs to the “Elite Eight” against the Pepperdine-Memphis winner on Sat., May 18. Illinois is hosting the championship for the first time.
The Bulldogs roll into Illinois on a 15-match winning streak, the program’s longest since the 2007 squad went undefeated at 32-0 on the way to the national title. Georgia has twice won 14 matches in a row since then. The Bulldogs have won 19 of 20 matches dating
back to Feb 24.
Georgiadogs.com will offer the Georgia Tennis Live Chat as long as the Bulldogs are playing in the tournament, as well as live scoring and video streaming courtesy of the host Illini.
THE OKLAHOMA CONNECTION: The Georgia and Oklahoma
match-up features two interesting storylines, as head coach John Roddick - the brother of Andy - and assistant coach Bo Hodge both played for the Bulldogs under Manuel Diaz and were assistant coaches. Roddick was Diaz’s assistant on the 2001 national championship team after earning All-America accolades four years in a row at UGA. Hodge was also a four-time All-American and a player on the ‘01 national championship team, while winning three SEC titles with the Bulldogs. He served as Diaz’s volunteer coach from 2006-08, winning two NCAA team titles during that span.
Georgia is 2-0 all-time vs. Oklahoma, last facing the Sooners in 2010 and earning the 4-0 win in the NCAA quarterfinals in Athens.
GEORGIA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Bulldogs are making their 35th overall appearance in the tournament and 30th straight. Georgia reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2012, and has reached the finals in three of the last seven seasons.
In all, the Bulldogs own six NCAA championships, most recently winning in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08.
Georgia is 92-29 all-time in the tournament and a staggering 28-4 since 2007. The Bulldogs have now moved out of the regional rounds 10 years in a row and 13 out of 15 times since the NCAA adopted the current format in 1999.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: Fourteen of the 16 national seeds advanced out of the regional rounds to the final site on the men’s side, with the upsets coming in Oxford, Miss. (unseeded Memphis def. No. 6 Ole Miss, 4-2, in the second round) and in Gainesville, Fla. (unranked Denver def. No. 15 Florida, 4-3, in the first round).
The Southeastern Conference leads all teams with six in the round of 16, as Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt will join Georgia in Illinois. The Pac-12 is next with three teams (Cal, Southern Cal, UCLA), while the ACC (Duke, Virginia) and Big 12 (Baylor, Oklahoma) each have two. Rounding out the field by conference is the Big 10 (Ohio State), Conference USA (Memphis), and West Coast Conference (Pepperdine) each with one representative.
LAST TIME OUT: The 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. That win came after the Bulldogs also collected a 4-0 shutout of Binghamton in first-round action Friday.
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 seventh of the year.
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.
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 before Smith locked up the win at No. 3.
FOUR BULLDOGS EARN NCAA INDIVIDUAL BIDS: Four members of the Georgia men’s tennis team were awarded at-large bids to the individual singles & doubles tournaments to be held May 22-27 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex/Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Illinois. The individual championships will follow the team tournament set for May 16-21, also at Illinois. Georgia’s four selections tied with Virginia for the most of any school.
Playing for Georgia in the singles tournament will be sophomore Nathan Pasha (31-13) and freshman Ben Wagland (25-7) – each making their first appearances. In doubles, the team of Wagland and Hernus Pieters were selected as a No. 5-8 seed, which locks up All-America honors for the duo, while Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux were also chosen to the doubles field.
Pieters previously earned All-America honors after competing in the doubles tournament with Javier Garrapiz as a freshman in 2011.
IN THE RANKINGS: The Georgia men’s tennis team jumped one spot to No. 2 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team ranking released May 2 and will hold there throughout the duration of the NCAA Championships kicking off May 10. Georgia was awarded the No. 3 national seed for the NCAA Championships.
In the singles poll, freshman Ben Wagland reached a new career high at No. 33. Sophomore Nathan Pasha came in at No. 47 with junior Hernus Pieters at No. 115. In doubles, the team of Wagland and Pieters held steady at No. 5 this week, while Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux are No. 15 and Pasha and Wagland are No. 76.
SMITH CLINCHES BOTH: Georgia freshman Austin Smith provided both clinching points in the squad’s two wins over Binghamton and Northwestern in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament May 10-11. Smith - a native of Cumming, Ga. - owns a singles record of 23-8 and has won four in a row.
He stands with seven match clinches on the year, tied for the team lead with classmate Ben Wagland. In Georgia’s two most recent victories - each by 4-0 scores - freshmen and sophomores accounted for all six singles wins.
WAGLAND ON A ROLL: Georgia freshman Ben Wagland entered the NCAA Championships hot and continued his momentum in the Bulldogs’ first and second round wins, picking up two victories. The rookie from Sydney, Australia, heads to the round of 16 with an overall record of 25-7 in singles including a six-match winning streak. He is 27-9 in doubles with Hernus Pieters, also on a six-match tear there. Wagland was named the MVP of the SEC Tournament and to the SEC All-Freshman and SEC first teams as a rookie. His teammate Nathan Pasha was also named first team All-SEC this season.