Well, friends, we're quickly approaching the end of the regular tennis season, which wraps up this coming Saturday, 14 April, against Tennessee: women in Athens; men in Knoxville. It was a big weekend for both teams with victories against major rivals, but the women did not escape unscathed.
Friday, the Crimson Tide women's team came to Athens and upset the Dawgs 4-3 while the UGA men were in Tuscaloosa notching a 5-2 win over the Bama hosts. Sunday, the ladies stayed in Athens to host Auburn while the men travelled to the so-called Loveliest Village. Both Bulldog teams soundly defeated the Plainspeople 6-1.
Kentucky's men's team remains undefeated in conference play, so the Wildcats have clinched at least a share of the 2012 SEC title. Their conference closer is against Vandy in Lexington. The Commodores are on a five-match losing streak. The unlikely upset with a Bulldog win over the Volunteers would give Georgia a share of the conference title. Last year, you may recall, Georgia finished tied with Tennessee, against whom the Dawgs had lost. An outright title is better, of course, but a tie for first-place finish is still a conference championship: we're not selecting
Sugar Bowl participants football championship game participants, after all. (Oops; showing my age there.) Let's not hold our breaths for the 'Dores to come through, however (even though Kentucky may be a little worn out by their Thursday match with Illinois), nor count the eggs from the Volunteer match before they hatch.
The Georgia women hang on to second place in the Eastern Division behind the Gators but fall to third-best record in the conference at 8-2 thanks to the loss to Bama. UGA is eliminated from even a share of the regular-season conference title, but there's always the conference tournament.
Men: #4 Georgia 5, Alabama 2
On Friday, 6 April, the Georgia men started against Bama by taking the doubles point, winning at the 2 and 3 spots but dropping No. 1. UGA's Nathan Pasha extended the lead to 2-0 at the 6 spot by defeating Filippos Tsangaridis 6-1, 6-4. The Tide got on the board for a 2-1 score when Vikram Reddy defeated Ignacio Taboada at No. 4 6-4, 6-4, but KU Singh made it 3-1 at No. 2 with his win over Jarryd Botha 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). The Tide would not go away, as Georgia's Sadio Doumbia fell to Daniil Proskura 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 at the 3 spot to make it 3-2, but it was the last point Bama would win. Hernus Pieters clinched the win at No. 5 by beating David Vieyra 3-6, 6-4, 6-0. Georgia got its fifth point when Bama's Ricky Doverspike retired at the 1 spot against Wil Spencer when the score was 7-5, 2-6, 5-5.
Women: #11 Alabama 4, #5 Georgia 3
Things started out well enough in Athens where the Bulldogs jumped to a 1-0 lead by taking two of the three doubles matches. After singles got under way, Bama tied it up with a win at the 2 spot by Alexa Guarachi over Nadja Gilchrist 6-4, 6-2. Chelsey Gullickson gave the lead back to the Dawgs 2-1 by defeating Mary Anne Macfarlane 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1, but the Tide took the lead 3-2 with wins at 6 and 5: Taylor Lindsey over Alina Jerjomina 6-3, 6-2, and Antonia Foehse over Kate Fuller 6-1, 7-5. Alabama's Courtney McLane clinched the win for her team by beating Maho Kowase 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at the 3 spot. The Dawgs don't quit, though, and Lilly Kimbell defeated Alex Clay 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3) to make the final score a one-point edge.
Men: #4 Georgia 6, #16 Auburn 1
Thanks to the Dawgs, Auburn now has a losing conference record (4-5) and can finish no better than .500 if the Tigers drop their season finale at Alabama. Again, Georgia won the doubles point, but again with wins at 2 and 3 and a loss at the top. And speaking of trouble at the top, Georgia won five of the six singles matches for a 6-1 final tally, but our No. 1 player, Spencer, fell to Auburn's Andreas Mies 6-3, 6-3.
Women: #5 Georgia 6, #63 Auburn 1
The ladies came back strong from Friday's disappointment and started things right against Auburn by sweeping the doubles matches for the early 1-0 lead. Gullickson took care of Jen Pfeifler 6-2, 6-0 at the No. 1 singles court for a 2-0 lead. Jerjomina made it 3-0 at the 6 spot by defeating Taylor Schreimann 6-2, 6-2, and Gilchrist clinched the victory with the fourth point at No. 2 by downing Plamena Kurteva 6-2, 6-0. It very nearly was a shutout: Kowase defeated Jacqueline Kasler 6-0, 6-2 to make it 5-0, and UGA's Lilly Kimbell defeated Paulina Schippers 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-8) to make it 6-0. But Auburn got on the board with the last singles match to finish, as Fuller fell to Olivia Bennett 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
With one more match to play before the post-season tournaments, we can look back and see an outstanding season for both the men's and women's teams. Regular-season championships weren't in the cards this year, and both teams have had their nagging struggles, most notably at the top of the men's order. Tournaments are a little bit of a different animal, though, with a lot of matches packed into consecutive days for the teams that advance. Georgia has done well in this format in the past, so we have cause to be hopeful as the SEC then NCAA tournaments get under way later this month and next month, respectively.
But first, of course, we have to take care of business against the Vols. The men head up to Knoxville to avenge last year's home loss to Tennessee that cost us the outright SEC title. The women face the Lady Vols in Athens, where I'm hopeful a big G Day crowd will show its support. If you're planning to attend any of the day's events (the G Day Game, women's tennis versus the Vols, Baseball against Ole Miss) and want to see some Dawg Sports folks face to face, leave us a comment over at Kyle's Sunday summary from yesterday, and we'll take email steps to coordinate.