Both SEC Tennis Tournament championship finals are today, 21 April 2013, at 2:00 p.m. Athens Daylight Saving Time. The men play Tennessee in Oxford , and the women play Florida in Starkvegas. If, like me, you didn't make it to the great state of Mississippi to watch one of the events live, you still can enjoy the action as it unfolds. Here are a few links:
- Live scoring and live chat for men's tennis SEC tournament championship final: UGA vs. Tennessee
- Live scoring and live chat for women's tennis SEC tournament championship final: UGA vs. Florida
A few days ago, I put together some information that might be helpful to those unfamiliar with how college team tennis works. Check it out if you'd like.
As I was watching this fun four-minute video of UGA coaches and players talking about the season and the regular-season championships, something Lauren Herring said prompted me to do a little digging around. Lauren said she'd heard that this is only the fourth time that the Georgia Bulldogs have won both the men's and women's regular-season conference titles. Of course, I had to identify those four seasons. And you know how one thing leads to another ...
- The University of Georgia Bulldogs tennis programs have won a combined 43 SEC tennis championships (men's, women's, regular-season, tournament), making ours the most decorated tennis program in the conference.
- UGA women's tennis has won both the SEC regular-season and the SEC tournament titles in the same season 4 times (1983, 1994, 2007, 2009).
- UGA men's tennis has won both the SEC regular-season and the SEC tournament titles in the same season 6 times (1991, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2006, 2007).
- UGA men's tennis and UGA women's tennis have both won the SEC regular-season title in the same season 4 times (1989, 2002, 2007, 2013).
- UGA men's tennis and UGA women's tennis have both swept the SEC regular-season and SEC tournament championships once (2007*).
*In 2007, the UGA men also won the NCAA tournament title. The UGA women lost to Cal in the NCAA quarterfinals, and Cal lost in the semifinals to Georgia Tech. Tech went on to defeat UCLA for Tech's first and only NCAA team championship in any sport. And it all happened in Athens.
Both teams have considerable challenges today in the tournament finals.
UGA Men vs. Tennessee
The Tennessee men defeated Vandy (4-1) in the quarterfinal and Florida (4-2) in the semifinal. During the regular season, Georgia defeated Tennessee 4-1, but as is often the case, the fight was much harder than the score might indicate. The Vols currently are 7th in the latest ITA ranking. They are 15-7 against ranked (1 to 75) opponents, but only 1-4 against the top ten (they defeated #9 Mississippi State in March). The Tennessee roster includes the SEC's highest-ranked singles player, #3 Mikelis Libietis, as well as #34 Hunter Reese. And they're both only sophomores. Libietis is 20-2 on the season (8-1 SEC), including a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over UGA's Nathan Pasha at the No. 1 spot during the teams' previous meeting. We should note that our current No. 1 player, KU Singh, was out of the lineup at the time, but Singh is 0-2 in the tournament. That's not a knock on KU, but we need for him to be on his game today. The Vols also boast the SEC's highest-ranked doubles team in Libietis and Reese at #3. As a pair, they are 11-0 (10-0 SEC), but that record does not include Georgia, since the two played in different pairings at the time (going 1-1 against the Dawgs).
Your second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs 21-4 overall and a loss on the road to #6 Ole Miss on the road represents the only blemish in their 11-1 SEC record (Georgia's 4-2 loss to Kentucky at the ITA National Team Indoors in January is not a part of the conference record, and the Dawgs defeated the Wildcats 4-2 in Lexington during the SEC schedule).
While the Vols boast a very highly ranked singles player and a stellar doubles pair, the Bulldogs have excellent quality depth. Our lineup includes #6 Singh (9-5, 6-3 SEC), #46 Pasha (12-9, 8-2), #53 Ben Wagland 15-4, 6-2), and #125 Hernus Pieters (12-7, 7-1). Although unranked, Austin Smith (13-5, 5-2) and Garrett Brasseaux (14-3, 7-1) have been integral to Georgia's wins. (Records are for dual meets only.) In doubles, we have #6 Pieters/Wagland (13-5, 7-2) and #23 Pasha/Brasseaux (13-5, 6-5). Our SEC tournament doubles lineup has included the pairing of Singh with Marco Nunez in the No. 3 position. As far as I can tell, Singh and Nunez did not compete together until the SEC tournament. They won their match against Kentucky Friday, and yesterday's match against Texas A&M went unfinished when the point was clinched by the Nos. 1 and 2 spots. They were down 3-6 at the time.
UGA women vs. Florida
It might be appropriate to think of the Gators as being to women's tennis in the SEC what the Bulldogs are to men's tennis. Florida has 27 SEC championships and six NCAA titles, including each of the last two years. They currently are ranked #2 in the country and have a 21-2 overall record. Their sole SEC loss was to Texas A&M. The Gators defeated #18 Vandy in their quarterfinal match and #4 Texas A&M in yesterdays semis, both 4-1. During the regular season, Florida defeated UGA 4-1 in Gainesville. Georgia's point came from the doubles portion of competition. Indeed, the Gators seem to have been struggling quite a bit in doubles considering their overall talent (32-23 overall, 18-12 SEC), but have more than enough singles power to make up for it. (By comparison, UGA's cumulative doubles records are 47-8, 27-4.)
Gator Lauren Embree is the nation's No. 1 player with a perfect 17-0 (10-0) record (again, counting dual meets only). Joining her in the lineup are #15 Sophie Oyen (15-3, 8-1), #54 Alex Cercone (15-1, 9-1), #95 Brianna Morgan (14-1, 7-1), #120 Danielle Collins (9-3, 5-0), and #123 Caroline Hitamana (9-0, 6-0). And Hitimana didn't even play singles yesterday. Also available is Olivia Janowicz (17-2, 9-1), who somehow is unranked. Among doubles, Embree/Oyen (12-4, 6/2) are ranked #22
Your third-ranked UGA team includes #6 Lauren Herring (15-3, 8-2), #13 Maho Kowase (17-3, 12-0), and #89 Silvia Garcia (19-2, 10-1). Georgia doubles pair of Kate Fuller and Garcia are #1 in the country with a 20-1 (11-1 SEC) record. As a team, UGA's only two losses have been to #2 Florida and #7 UCLA.
The men's season already has been spectacular. The outright SEC regular-season championship was, frankly, a little bit of a surprise, considering the significant number of young guys on our team. An accompanying SEC tournament title would be very sweet icing. As for the women, facing powerhouse Florida is always a huge uphill climb, but our ladies have what it takes if they dig in and grind it out. And if both teams manage to win today, I think it's safe to say we will have experienced A Significant Moment In UGA Sports.