April 16, 2011, is shaping up to be a big day for your Georgia Bulldogs. Not only is it G-Day, the annual Spring Game at Sanford Stadium, but our men's tennis and baseball teams will be hosting conference foes who currently sit atop the national rankings at their respective sports: Tennessee tennis and Florida baseball.
As T. Kyle King suggested, could there be a better way to spend a fine spring day than hanging out in Athens cheering on the Dawgs? Who's up for converging in the Classic City on April 16?
Football: G-Day, Sanford Stadium, TBA
The time isn't official, according to the UGA web site, but I suspect it'll start around 1:00 pm. Personally, I need to attend if for no reason other than to remind myself that there'll be something to do in the months leading up to basketball season. I encourage my fellow Georgia fans to join me in appreciating this other major sport.
Men's Tennis: Georgia vs. Tennessee, Dan Magill Tennis Complex, 3:30 pm
If you're looking for a rival in men's tennis this year, it'll be Tennessee. Georgia has no traditional SEC rivals in tennis, really. We've won six NCAA team championships (most recently in 2008), which is six more than any other SEC school. We've won 25 SEC championships (UF 9, UT 8). By the way, that's almost as many conference championships as we've won in men's golf (27).
Defending SEC champion Tennessee is expected by many to win the conference again. It can't be our year every year, but at the same time, I can't remember the last time one could say that UGA shouldn't be in the discussion. We are five conference matchups into the season. After Florida's loss to Ole Miss this weekend, Georgia and Tennessee stand tied in the conference standings at 5-0.
Tennessee is ranked No. 1 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). The Vols have dropped one contest, a 4-3 squeaker to No. 31 Baylor in Waco. The Bulldogs (No. 8) are 12-2 over all, with losses to No. 4 Ohio State and No. 18 Georgia Tech (that's painful to write). The Vols have notable non-conference victories over No. 20 San Diego, No. 57 Clemson, No. 9 Illinois, No. 10 Duke, No. 28 Louisville, and No. 34 Wake Forest. Georgia's notable non-conference wins are against No. 57 Clemson and No. 22 UNC.
Please note that Tennessee and Georgia squared off in the ITA Team Indoor Championship Tournament on 18 February, and the Vols bested the Dawgs 4-2 in Seattle. The ITA Indoors do not count in the conference standings, and as a self-contained event outside the NCAA schedule, I didn't include any of those tournament matches in the over-all records. (We beat No. 12 Stanford and Louisville that weekend.)
Looming large is the 16 April 2011 contest between Tennessee and Georgia in Athens at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. According to the UGA web site, it's set to start at 3:30 pm, but according to utsport.com, it's at 5:00 pm. This is G Day. Even if it's the earlier of the two times, you should have time to get your fill of spring football and still catch the singles action down on South Campus.
Home court makes a difference, especially in Athens. For many years, including back in the '80s when I was a student, UGA became the unofficial, nearly permanent home of the NCAA Championship Tournament because we have the finest on-campus tennis facility in the country (including the ITA Hall of Fame). Legend has it that our national rivals (primarily the Cardinal and Trojans, if I remember correctly) complained bitterly about the advantage this gave Georgia. Athens hosted the tournament every year starting in 1977, which apparently wasn't a problem until UGA won its first championship in 1985 and a second in 1987. It went back to a rotation with other sites starting in 1990. A group of us in my fraternity treated the event like a football game: block seating, smuggled bourbon, and wild barking.
I'll check with the folks in Athens for the correct time and post it and additional details next week. I think we all should give serious consideration to making a G Day of it and to welcoming the Volunteers to Henry Feild Stadium.
Baseball: Georgia vs. Florida, Foley Field, 5:00 pm
After a shaky start, our Diamond Dogs won five consecutive games before dropping a midweek contest last week to the Kennesaw State Owls. They next headed over to Columbia and defeated the defending National Champion Gamecocks on Friday before dropping the second game yesterday. As I write, the Dawgs and Chickens are playing the rubber match (5-3 South Carolina, bottom of the 6th).
There's a lot of baseball between now and April 16, but on that date, Georgia will host the hated Gators, currently occupying the top spot in a handful of polls, for the second in the three-game series. Florida will, no doubt, be heavily favored. The game is scheduled to air on ESPNU, but wouldn't you feel better about yourself if you showed your support in person?
Please continue discussing interest in an official or quasi-official get-together in Athens on 4/16. In addition to these major contests in Athens (one of which is a guaranteed UGA win), we can share updates from day 2 of the SEC men's golf championship on St. Simon's Island, the final day of the Varsity EQ National Championship in Waco, the women's tennis match-up against the Lady Vols in Knoxville, and (please, oh please) the team finals in the NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Cleveland, OH.
That's a full day, ladies and gentlemen. There will be plenty of reasons to celebrate and/or commiserate, and you know you'd rather do so in Athens with like-minded friends.