The UGA tennis teams notched wins this weekend as the ITA Kick-Off Weekend continued on campuses around the country. Four-team tournaments are being played as a qualifying round for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, and both Georgia teams were selected to host in Athens.
The sixth-ranked women advanced on Friday by beating the Missouri Tigers and punched their ticket to the national event by defeating FIU 7-0 on Saturday. The fourth-ranked men faced TCU on Sunday, and with their 7-0 win advanced to face No. 34 VPI* at 2:00 p.m. today.
The underclassmen led the way for the UGA women as the sophomore team of Lilly Kimbell and Maho Kowase and the sophomore-freshman team of Kate Fuller and Lauren Herring clinched the doubles point, halting the match at the #1 spot, where seniors Chelsey Gullickson and Nadja Gilchrist were leading 5-4.
Gullickson then made quick work of the Golden Panthers' Sarah McLean 6-3, 6-0 to give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead. Kowase then blanked Christine Seredni 6-0, 6-0 at the four spot to extend the lead to 3-0. Herring clinched the team victory with UGA's fourth point at court 2 over Lisa Johnson 6-2, 6-0. With the match in hand, the ladies still on the courts did not take their feet of the gas until the final point toward a 7-0 triumph: Gilchrist defeated Rita Maisak 6-1, 4-6, 6-4; Fuller bested Giulietta Boha 6-2, 6-3; and Kimbell split her first two sets with Karyn Guttormsen before taking the tie-breaker 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6).
Next up for the women (5-0 on the season): a rematch with FIU in Athens for a regularly scheduled match on 5 February 2012 before heading up to Charlottesville for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the University of Virginia, 10-13 February 2012.
Yesterday afternoon, the men's four-team tournament in the Kick-Off weekend got under way as VPI edged Nebraska 4-3 for the chance to face the UGA-TCU winner. Georgia (2-0) took the doubles point with wins at 1 and 2 by Wil Spencer (Sr)/Garrett Brasseaux (So) and Sadio Doumbia (Sr)/Ignacio Taboada (Sr), 8-6 and 8-4, respectively. Hernus Pieters (So)/KU Singh (Jr) were tied 7-7 when their match was halted.
The team victory was secured at 4-0 after Singh, Taboada, and Doumbia each won his singles match in straight sets. The Dawgs finished out the blanking of the Horned Frogs with wins by Spencer, Nathan Pasha (Fr), and Pieters. Only Spencer's match against TCU's No. 1 player, Nick Chappell, went past two sets, with Spencer taking the tie-breaker 10-8.
Georgia's match with VPI is this afternoon at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility at 2:00 p.m. If you're in the area, you can check it out in person, or follow live scoring at georgiadogs.com.
I caught an interesting tidbit this weekend on WSB-TV's Bulldogs Game Week show (Saturdays, 12:30 p.m.). Junior KU Singh was gushing about Georgia's team culture and how great it is to have the entire team working together, even though each man is on his own against his match opponent. He said he's never experienced anything like it before. Considering he's a transfer from the University of Illinois, I'd say those comments were meaningful. And if you don't think collegiate tennis is a team sport, check out the first 18 seconds or so of the splash video intro at coachmannydiaz.com.
*NCT's Style Guide disfavors "Virginia Tech" and prefers "VPI" or, occasionally, "The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University"; I spologize if there is any confusion for the young'uns among you, but the Style Guide must be followed.