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Beyond the Hedges: 2/14/2013

Your weekly recap of UGA sports from hither to yon.

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We're expecting low temperatures near freezing here in Georgia's Piedmont over the next few days. I reckon the men's golf team won't mind too much, since they'll be in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Classic. The field includes teams from all over, including regional rivals Bama, Tech, Augusta State, and Clemson. Live scoring will be available at GolfStat.

The women's golf team hosted an individual tournament on 2 February that regrettably was won by a Gator. Team play kicks off tomorrow at the FSU Matchup. The Tallahassee tournament has an interesting format: six teams were invited, including Georgia, and each head coach selected a partner whose head coach had been an assistant, player, or friend. Georgia is partnered with Oklahoma, whose head coach, Veronique Drouin-Luttrell, was an assistant coach at Georgia from 2005-08, albeit before UGA's Coach Josh Brewer was in Athens. Live scoring is available at GolfStat.

At last, there's baseball. The Diamond Dogs open 2013 tomorrow in Statesboro for a three-game series against Georgia Southern. The games are scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. If you're in the Greater Bulloch County Metropolitan Area, why not take in a game or three in person? Otherwise, you can keep up with the action via Gametracker.

In case you missed the men's basketball team's loss to Bama Tuesday to end a five-game winning streak, we've got it covered. The Dawgs have a chance to start a new streak Saturday night in Oxford against Ole Miss in a game televised on ESPN2. Tip-off is at 8 Athens Time.

The men's and women's swimming and diving teams are preparing for the SEC Championships, 19-23 February in College Station. Meanwhile, the men's team has been getting their Harlem Shake on (they even got some airtime on Good Morning America earlier this week), and junior Laura Ryan has been selected by USA Diving to compete in the FINA Grand Prix Canada Cup 2-5 May à Québec and in the FINA USA Diving Grand Prix 9-12 in Ft. Lauderdale.

I had the pleasure last Friday to escape early from Marietta to watch the men's tennis team live at Georgia Tech. It was a capacity crowd, standing room only, and I got there with doubles in progress, shortly before campus police started turning fans away at the door. Fortunately, friends Bill and Stacey, who'd arrived on time, had room for me on the front row at court No. 2. The Dawgs fell behind a point after doubles. I'm not making excuses here, but it's a fact that a roster full of youngsters like ours will take some time to find the right doubles pairings and for those pairs to find their match footing. Junior Hernus Pieters and Freshman Ben Wagland lost at 1, 8-4; sophomore Nathan Pasha and freshman Marco Nunez fell at 2, 8-5; and at 3, sophomore Eric Diaz and junior Garrett Brasseaux were behind 7-6 when the point was decided. After Tech's pep band did the ubiquitous Buweiser Bob (Hey, everybody: beer! We're cool college kids!), the Dawgs took over in singles (without 8th-ranked senior KU Singh at his usual No. 1 spot), starting with wins in five of the first six sets. It didn't take long for Georgia to clinch the team victory with straight-set wins by Wagland at 3 (6-1, 6-1), GBrass at 6 (6-1, 6-1), freshman Nick Wood at 6 (6-3, 6-2), and Pasha at 1 (6-2, 6-3). Pieters fell behind a set at 2 (6-3), and fought hard through what appeared to be a tweaked ankle, requiring a little trainer attention, to a 5-4 second set when the match was called for Tech for their only singles win. We hope it's nothing serious and that Hernus will be back at full strength soon. Freshman Austin Smith wrapped up the 5-2 defeat of the Trade School with a 6-2, 6-3 win at 5. A very good time was had by the substantial red and black contingent in enemy territory.

Your 34-time SEC Champion men's tennis team, still ranked No. 6, is headed to Seattle for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, held tomorrow through Monday. The SEC is represented well in the field of 16 with appearances by UGA, Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Ole Miss, the last of whom will be 6-seed Georgia's opponent in the first round, tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Athens Time.

While the men are going to Seattle, women's tennis just returned from Charlottesville, Virginia, where they fell 4-1 to No. 2 and top-seeded UCLA in the semifinals of the women's ITA National Team Indoor Championships. On the way, they defeated Texas 4-2 and Cal 4-1. The weekend's performance was good enough to lift UGA a spot to No. 5 in the national rankings, and Silvia Garcia was named SEC Freshman of the Week after winning all of her sets over the weekend in singles and improving to 7-0 on the year with her doubles partner, junior Kate Fuller. 5-1 Georgia gets a break before hosting No. 22 Georgia Tech on 23 February.

The men's and women's track and field teams finished the regular season in Blacksburg and Seattle. At the Husky Classic, sophomore Carly Hamilton finished the mile at ninth in 4:36.06 for a school record. While the distance runners were in Washington, freshman Shaunae Miller followed up on her stellar performance two weekends ago in Akron by winning the 200 meters at 23.26 for the second-fastest time in school history at the VPI Elite Meet. Her 200 and 400 times this season are both sixth nationally. Again showing UGA's traditional strength in throwing heavy things, Bulldogs placed first, second, third, and fourth in men's shot put: sophomore Nick Vena threw to 19.15 meters; junior Caleb Whitener, 18.51; freshman Ashinia Miller, 18.42; and junior Petr Novotny, 17.96. And junior Hilenn James captured the event for the Bulldog women with a distance of 16.65 meters. The UGA men's 4x400 relay team of sophomores Chris Foster, Drew Branch, and Corey Ashbourne, and senior Eric Mills placed first in their event with their season-best 3:13.20. The Dawgs get a break before heading out to Fayetteville for the SEC Indoor Championships, 22-24 February.

In women's basketball news, the No. 9 Lady Bulldogs suffered a setback in Baton Rouge Sunday, losing to LSU in a 62-54 upset. Georgia was down early to trio of three-point plays but adjusted to keep it close. Down a point with under two minutes to play, UGA collapsed to cede a 9-2 Tigers run, falling to the Tigers in spite of senior Jasmine Hassell's second consecutive double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds). The 8-3 Lady Bulldogs (20-4 over all) fall to fourth place in the SEC with five games remaining on the regular-season slate. Next up is a trip to Gainesville against the 4-6 (15-9 over all) Gators. Tip-off is at 1:00 Sunday, televised on CSS.

The softball team completed opening weekend with a 3-2 record after the sixth annual Red and Black Classic. After falling to Elon 5-2 and defeating Ohio State 6-1 on Friday, UGA switched it up by defeating Elon 8-0 and falling to Ohio State 5-4 on Saturday. Georgia's weekend action was capped off Sunday with a 5-3 win over Winthrop. For their efforts, UGA dropped from 9 to 13 in this week's Coaches Poll, but there's a lot of softball to be played. Tomorrow through Sunday, the Dawgs hosts Campbell, Northwestern, and MTSU at the Georgia Softball Classic, followed by three more multi-team tournaments and a 13 March date with Tech before the first SEC series at Auburn 15-17 March.

Kyle already brought you the gory details of the gymnastics upset-tie in Lexington Friday night. Let's hope the women can get it together when the No. 1 Gators come to town Saturday at 4 p.m.

In club sports news, please check out our wrap-ups of the men's and women's lacrosse team's big weekend. Saturday, the women defeated Tech (15-5) and Tennessee (21-3) in Atlanta, and the men beat Wake Forest 13-6 in Athens. The men improved to 2-0 Sunday by downing Kennesaw State in Marietta 15-3. Today through Sunday, the women are in California for the UC Santa Barbara Shootout with Texas, UCLA, Michigan, and UVA on the schedule. This coming Saturday, the men head down to Gainesville to take on Florida. Dawg Sports will bring you the results of all the matches when they're available.

In news from between and not beyond the hedges, tomorrow is the annual deadline for Hartman Fund contributions, the all-important basis for football season tickets.

And finally, in a little bit of non-sports SEC news, UGA student Travis Williams took first place among entries from undergrads at each of the Conference's 14 members in the Excellence in Poster Presentation at the inaugural Southeastern Conference Symposium this week. The Symposium is part of the SEC's Academic Initiative to foster cooperation among the member institutions. Travis presented "The Effects of Industrial Processing On Pectin-Rich Biomass Carbohydrate Composition and Ethanol Production From These Substrates". Congratulations, Travis, and Go Dawgs!

This is a lot to take in all at once, so starting Sunday evening, Dawg Sports will be bringing you twice-weekly updates. As always, in my efforts to keep you up to speed in all things UGA sports, I welcome your contributions to help me do a better job.