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Beyond the Hedges 4/8/2013

NCT, whattayagot?

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UGA Sports Communications



With Friday's 4-0 win over LSU and Sunday's 4-1 win over Arkansas, the men's tennis team clinched at least a share of the 2013 regular-season SEC championship. One win out next weekend's matches against Auburn and Bama would secure an outright title. Our friends in Baton Rouge, however, helped us out by defeating Tennessee, the only team that had a shot at tying for the title. This is Georgia's 35th SEC title in men's tennis (27 regular-season and 8 SEC tournament titles). For a little perspective, consider that the second most successful SEC men's tennis program is Tennessee, who's won a total of 13 (ten regular-season, three tournament titles). It brings Coach Diaz's personal total up to 29: 22 as head coach, 3 as an assistant coach, and 4 as a player.

But even though SEC championships might seem routine for UGA, this one is especially remarkable for the makeup of the team that won it. No fewer than four true freshmen have made significant contributions to the team's 17-4 (9-2 SEC) record, and we were without our No. 1 singles player for several weeks early in the season. Recognizing this was a bit of a rebuilding year for the conference's best program, the coaches picked Ole Miss to win the championship. The Rebels were the only SEC team to beat Georgia in conference play (UGA downed Ole Miss in the ITA National Team Indoors, a non-conference contest), but they dropped four elsewhere in the schedule while the Dawgs remained otherwise perfect.

The Auburn match will be at 5:00 pm Friday, with the Bama match following on Sunday afternoon at 1:00. The SEC Tournament is 18-21 April in Oxford. We'll take a closer look at the field and format closer to the date. And lest he get overlooked, our congratulations go to Ben Wagland who last week was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time.


Last Tuesday, the Diamond Dogs avenged the February 2-1 home loss to Kennesaw State by defeating the Owls up in North Cobb County 2-1. But then it was back to the SEC. Mizzou came to town and handed the Dawgs a 4-0 shutout Friday. Saturday, Georgia scored five runs in the first four innings to the Tigers' two and held off a late game Mizzou rally to notch a second SEC win of the season 6-5. Sunday, the Dawgs looked like they might actually win a series: jumping out to an early 5-0 lead, Georgia let the Tigers get closer with a 3-run fourth inning and another run in the eighth. Things fell apart in the ninth as the visitors scored four more runs for the 8-5 win.

Georgia hosts the Jackets tonight in a game televised on CSS, if you can bear to watch. The SEC slate returns this weekend when the Razorbacks come to town.


Georgia Tech must be really bad at softball this year. Having already defeated the Jackets in Atlanta 14-1 last month, the Dawgs went crazy on the Trade School in Athens, trouncing the Trade School 20-1. Georgia hit six Georgia home runs, including a grand slam by Kaylee Puailoa. This weekend, however, UGA suffered its second consecutive sweep by an SEC opponent. Arkansas had the honors last week; this week it was Tennessee: 10-3, 9-2, 6-1.

We're 27-13 over all and 6-6 in the SEC, good for fifth place in the SEC East. Vandy doesn't play softball (they have an NCAA championship in women's bowling), so that means only one team in our division has a worse record. That team is 1-11 South Carolina, whom the Dawgs play in Columbia this coming weekend after a home doubleheader Wednesday against Western Carolina.


Georgia participated in the Insperity Augusta State Invitational this weekend and finished in third place behind team winner Texas and second-place host Augusta State. The Dawgs next tournament is for the SEC Championship at St. Simons, 19-21 April.


Congrats again to the Gym Dogs for winning their NCAA regional out in Oregon. The Dawgs will be back at it 19 April for the preliminaries of the national championship, vying for a spot in the Super Six competition 20 April with the individual championships held the following day. Fun fact: there's a town just west of Corvallis called Philomath, but this isn't the one made famous by R.E.M. (which is east of Athens: I've been there, and I know the way).


Senior Allison Schmitt has been named the Honda Sports Award winner for swimming by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards. That makes her a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the Honda Cup, and award won by Georgia gymnast Courtney Kupets in 2009.


At the Florida Relays, Georgia's distance relay team of Charles Grethen, Eric Mills, Daniel Grass, and Kisean Smith won the men's distance medley at 9:57.66. Carly Hamilton won the women's 1500 meters with a time of 4:21.33. Ashinia Miller hurled the discus for a winning distance of 54.33 meters. This weekend, UGA hosts the Bulldog Decathlon and the Spec Towns National Team Invitational. By the way, we all know who Spec Towns was, right? I'm thinking at some point we need to go through every athletic facility on campus and make sure everyone properly remembers its namesake.


While the men's team was clinching the SEC championship, the women were doing what it takes to stay in the hunt by dominating LSU Friday and Arkansas Sunday, both 7-0. Heading into the weekend, there were no undefeated teams in the SEC and four with only one loss. Two of those teams, Texas A&M and Bama, played on Sunday, and the Aggies won 4-3. A&M, Georgia, and Florida all have played each other, and all are 1-1 within the group. If we can win this weekend's matches against Auburn (Friday) and Alabama (Sunday), both on the road, we'll have at least a share of the conference title. This will be no easy task, but I have faith in the team and Coach Wallace, who notched his 600th career victory Sunday.

Until next time,