Georgia's men's and women's teams marched through the SEC Tennis Tournaments this weekend and both played for titles yesterday. The men defeated top-seeded Kentucky 4-1 to claim the championship. The women fell to top-seeded Florida, 4-1, and forgive me, but that's all I can bring myself to say about that, except you should check out the georgiadogs.com recap to see it really was a competitive match.
This is UGA's 8th SEC tournament title in men's tennis, bringing Georgia's SEC tennis championship tally (including both regular season and tournament titles) to 34. No one else in the conference comes anywhere close to the success the Bulldogs have had on the courts.* The thrilling tale of vengeance after the jump.
Heading into the final match of the tournament, Georgia was 22-2 on the season with losses to #1 Southern California and Kentucky, the latter of which cost the Dawgs the regular-season SEC title. That sole conference loss was not forgotten Sunday afternoon, and UGA came to the courts ready to win.
Georgia took the early 1-0 lead with wins at Nos. 3 and 2 doubles, 8-3 and 8-4, respectively. Georgia led at No. 1, 7-5, when play was suspended. In singles, Hernus Pieters made it 2-0 Georgia with his win at 6 over Panav Jha 6-1, 6-0. Next came freshman sensation Nathan Pasha, who defeated Alejandro Gomez 6-2, 6-2 for a 3-0 Georgia advantage. At the No. 1 spot, Kentucky star (and, I'm pleased to note, senior) Eric Quigley defeated Wil Spencer 6-1, 7-5 to put the WIldcats on the Board, 3-1. KU Singh and Sadio Doumbia were in their third sets at 2 and 3, but Ignacio "Nacho" Taboada was, apparently, ready to put things to rest in two sets. Back in March, Kentucky's Tom Jomby defeated Taboada to break a 3-3 tie and win the match 4-3 for Kentucky. In Sunday's rematch, Taboada took the first set 6-3 and would not let Jomby even the score, winning the second set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-4) to give Georgia the clinching point and the 4-1 victory.
Check out the championship point, courtesy of former Bulldog Drake Bernstein, co-captain of the 2010-11 squad, by way of the UGA Men's Tennis Facebook page.
The tournament title means an automatic bid to the SEC tournament, but both the men's and women's team were headed that way already. The last time the men's team won the conference tournament and played in the NCAA tournament in Athens, in 2007, they won it all. That'll be a tall order, but this is a tough team.
The NCAA field of 64 for each of the men's and women's tournaments will be announced on 1 May, so get your brackets ready. Play begins 11 May for both.