We interrupt the Handwringing of the Day regarding a certain cornerback's allegedly questionable activities in Henry County (DANG, KING! HEADS UP, BRO!) to bring you news from the nets.
As loyal Dawg Sports friend and reader Vietnam Dawg shared yesterday afternoon, the men's tennis team had another close SEC win as they beat visiting Ole Miss 4-3 in a thriller that came down to the wire. The women had an easier time in Oxford, handing the Rebels a 5-2 loss.
Yesterday's men's victory keeps them on top of the SEC East standings at 4-0 (13-1 over all, ranked 6th nationally), but 7th-ranked Kentucky is keeping pace, likewise improving to 4-0 in conference play with the Wildcats' 4-3 win over No. 9 Florida. You may recall that UGA defeated the Gators by an identical score last weekend. The 30 March meeting between the 'Dogs and 'Cats in Athens is shaping up to be a big one. Last year, Georgia narrowly defeated Kentucky 4-3 during the regular season but fell to the Wildcats 4-0 in the SEC tournament. This will be a match to see, so make plans to attend if you can.
The ladies, meanwhile, held onto second place in the division, still tied with Vandy at 3-1 in the SEC thanks to the Commodores' Sunday win over South Carolina and behind Florida's first-place position. The Gators could knot things up in a three-way tie by losing to Kentucky in a match delayed from yesterday due to rain. Seriously, isn't it time to cancel all outdoor sports in the state of Florida (WLOCP and just a few football bowl games excepted, of course)? It just seems like at least one of three times the Braves visit the Marlins there's a rain delay. But I digress. Anyway, don't hold your breath while expecting the Gators to suffer their first loss to 0-3 Kentucky.
A few details of yesterday's matches after the jump.
By the way, before we get into yesterday's matches, if you haven't been following collegiate tennis all that closely over the years, please note that Florida's women's team is a dominant force in the SEC. The UGA women have enjoyed success (two NCAA tournament championships plus three national indoor titles; eight SEC championships), but the Gators are to SEC women's tennis what the Bulldogs are to SEC men's tennis. Florida has five NCAA tournament championships in women's tennis, including 2011, and 25 SEC championships, the most in the conference. (cf. UGA men's tennis: 26 SEC, 6 NCAA, 2 national indoor titles) Indeed, women's tennis arguably is Florida's best program, considering that its swimming and have slipped considerably since Auburn's and UGA's emergences in the 1990s. /file under "Know Thine Enemy"; /also file under stubborn and, perhaps, romance-language-influenced use of plurals in "emergences"
All right, then. Shall we?
The women had a decisive 5-2 victory over Ole Miss, starting and finishing strong. Georgia won the doubles point for a 1-0 lead behind a trio of 8-6 wins. Ole Miss tied things up at the 1 spot at 1-1 with Kristi Boxx's upset of No. 11 Chelsea Gullickson 6-3, 6-1. The back-and-forth continued as UGA's Lauren Herring defeated Caroline Rohde-Moe 6-2, 6-2, and Abby Guthrie beat UGA's Lilly Kimbell 6-4, 6-4. From the 2-2 snarl, the remaining courts all went Georgia's way: Maho Kowase defeated Julia Jones 7-5, 7-5; Nadja Gilchrist defeated Erin Stephens 6-7(6-8), 6-2, 6-3; and Kate Fuller defeated Iris Verboven 6-2, 6-7(3-7), 6-3.
it's Spring Break in Athens, so the team gets the week off before returning to action on Friday, 23 March, when they hit the road again to face Arkansas in Fayetteville.
The 16th-ranked Ole Miss men's team would not go as quietly in Athens as their female counterparts did in Oxford. Georgia took the early 1-0 lead by winning 2 of the three doubles matches and extended it once singles got underway with a quick 6-3, 6-1 win by Nathan Pasha over Adrian Skogeng at the six spot. Ole Miss's Jonas Lutjen put the Rebels on the board by defeating Sadio Doumbia 6-3, 6-1 at No. 3. The visitors' comeback continued as the number one court saw Nik Scholtz defeat UGA's Wil Spencer 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to bring the over all match score to 2-2. Each team gained a point for a 3-3 tie with Georgia's Ignacio Taboada's 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over William Kallberg and Marcel Thiemann's defeat of Bulldog KU Singh 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(7-2).
In a thrilling finish, Hernus Pieters closed the deal for the Dawgs. Johan Backstrom played it close to a tie in the first set, but Pieters dominated the tiebreaker 7-0. Backstrom came back strong for a 6-2 win in the second set and battled to a 4-4 tie in the third before Pieters broke and positioned himself at 5-4 to serve for the game, set, match, and team win. Backstrom handled Pieters' serve well enough to put the Bulldog in a 0-40 deficit, but Pieters held. With his teammates, all of whom had finished with play, cheering him, Pieters took the last set 6-4 for a dramatic finish in a 4-3 Georgia win.
After the week off, the Georgia men host second-ranked Ohio State on Wednesday, 21 March. This is what we might call a major out-of-conference opponent, so if you're in or near the Classic City, please consider showing up and barking your fool head off in support of the Dawgs.