Georgia men's and women's tennis teams have been busy. Cumulatively, they played five matches in five days and won all five. Both the men and women improved their conference tallies with wins over Arkansas and LSU, and the men scored an upset of the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
Times are good for our netters. What it means and how it went down after the jump.
With yesterday's victory over LSU in Baton Rouge, the men's eighth consecutive win, the Bulldogs improve to 16-1 (6-0 SEC) and remain tied for first with Kentucky in the SEC Eastern Division standings. The lone loss was to the top-ranked USC Trojans. The women are 15-2 (5-1) and second in the East behind Florida. Vandy shared the second-place spot with Georgia until the Commodrixes' 5-2 loss to Bama (the West's leader) on Friday.
The guys are on course to earn Georgia's 27th SEC championship in men's tennis, which will put them in a tie with men's golf for the greatest number of conference championships among Georgia athletic programs, but they have to get past co-division-leader Kentucky. (And what's up with that? I thought Kentucky was a baseball school.) Lord willin' and Tanyard Branch don't rise, the prospects also are pretty good for a deep run in the NCAA tournament, to be held once again in Athens.
The women, while not mathematically eliminated from a conference crown, will have a tougher time getting one this year since Florida, to whom Georgia lost earlier this month, would have to slip up at least twice for the Dawgs to move ahead of them. That's just not likely. Even so, it's a great season so far, and the women also should make some noise at the NCAA women's tournament, also in Athens.
The busy run of tennis started in Athens on Wednesday when the men hosted Ohio State. Like the Bulldogs, the Buckeyes came to the meet having lost only to Southern Cal. Although Georgia led the all-time series 10-3 going into last Wednesday's match, Ohio State had won the last three meetings as it's established itself among the national elite.
Ohio State took an early 2-0 lead by taking two of the three doubles matches and winning the first singles match: a strong 6-3, 6-2 win by sixth-ranked Blaz Rola over our own Wil Spencer at the number one spot. KU Singh defeated twelfth-ranked Chase Buchanan 7-5, 6-4 at number two to bring the Dawgs within a point at 2-1, and Ignacio Taboada tied it up 2-2 at number four with his win over Ille Van Engelen 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). The Buckeyes took the lead once again at the number five court as Hernus Pieters fell to Devin McCarthy 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. That meant Georgia had to take both remaining singles matches to win, and they did:Nathan Pasha defeated Connor Smith 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4, and Sadio Doumbia clinched the 4-3 victory with his win over Peter Kobelt 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1.
If you haven't seen it already, take a few seconds to check out an original composition, "Match Point and Dogpile" on the UGA Men's Tennis Team's Facebook page.
On Friday, the men returned to conference play and hosted No. 32 Arkansas. It was a rout. The doubles point was decided at the one and three spots with wins by Spencer/Singh (8-2) and Taboada Pieters (8-3). Doumbia/Pieters led 7-4 but went unfinished. The Dawgs went on to win all six singles points in straight sets, except for the six spot, where Campbell Johnson (of Georgia's stellar depth) kept things interesting in a win over the Razorbacks' Jovan Parlic 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-1).
Next, the guys were on the road in Baton Rouge to take on No. 26 LSU. The last few days' packed schedule may have taken its toll a bit, but for whatever reason, the Dawgs were not at their best. Georgia took the doubles point in a sweep of all three matches, but two of them were very close: Taboada/Pieters won 8-3, but Doumbia/Pasha and Spencer/Singh, while victorious (9-8 (7-3) and 9-8 (9-7), respectively), were involved in hotly contested battles. The Dawgs went on to win the first two singles matches for a 3-0 lead, needing to win only one more to clinch the team victory. The Bayou Bengals made Georgia work for it, though, taking the next two singles (the 1 and 2 spots) to come within a point at 3-2 before Georgia finally won its fourth and clinching point at the six spot, where Pieters defeated David Roberts 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. LSU took the last point at number 3 for a 4-3 final score.
The seventh-ranked women's team was in Fayetteville Friday and blasted the No. 37 Razorbacks 7-0. Georgia swept a competitive doubles point before making it look easy by taking all singles matches in straight sets. First was Chelsea Gullickson's defeat of Emily Carbone at the No. 1 spot 6-1, 6-1. Maho Kowase's 6-1,6-1decision at No. 4 over Arkansas's Kate Lukomskaya gave the Dawgs a 3-0 lead, and the rout was on. At the two spot, Lauren Herring took care of Claudine Paulson 6-3,6-1 to clinch the fourth and winning point. The shutout was completed by Nadja Gilchrist (6-2, 7-6(2) over Stephanie Roy); Kate Fuller (7-6(2), 6-4 over Laurie Gingras); and Lilly Kimbell (6-4, 7-6(15) over Catherine Parenteau).
The girls returned to Athens for the Sunday match against 49th ranked LSU and emerged a 6-1 winner. Once again, Georgia took a 1-0 lead by sweeping doubles play. Kimbell at 6 extended the lead to 2-0 by defeating Yvette Vlaar 7-5, 6-0. Kowase made it 3-0 with her decision over Keri Frankenberger 6-2, 6-3. Gilchrist clinched the team win at the 3 spot by besting Kaitlin Burns 7-5, 6-2. Next followed Gullickson's and Fuller's wins to make it 6-0 with wins over Whitney Wolf 6-2, 7-5 and Ebie Wilson 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), respectively. It nearly was another shutout win, but LSU's Olivia Howlett upset No. 51 Herring at the 2 spot 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-7). Fun fact: Georgia's winning streak against LSU in women's tennis extends back to 1985.
Kentucky's next with the men in Athens and the women in Lexington. The men's match is for the division lead, and the match isn't scheduled to begin until 5:00 p.m. Friday would be a great day to wrap up your work (and/or schoolwork) early, enjoy a Friday afternoon adult beverage or two, and head to the Magill Tennis Complex to support UGA.