Athens, GA - The 11th-ranked University of Georgia men’s tennis team opens the 2011 dual match slate with Monday’s 2:30 p.m. meeting with border rival Clemson at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts in Athens, Ga. While the match marks the first team competition of the season for the Bulldogs, Clemson is already 3-0, having played three dual matches to open the spring.
Live scoring will be available for the match on Georgiadogs.com, in addition to the inaugural Georgia Men’s Tennis live chat, which can be accessed on the men’s tennis homepage by clicking on the link on the right titled “Live Tennis Match Chats.”
“We’re excited to get going with the dual match season,” said 23rd year head coach Manuel Diaz. “All the guys are excited and really focused on this first week, which includes Clemson as well as Oklahoma State and either UNC or Georgia Tech in the ITA Kickoff. Those are some very good opponents. Clemson is an up and coming team and will be trying to place themselves in the top half of the ACC, which has more teams in the top-25 than any other conference. We know what we have to do on Monday, and we know that anything can happen this early in the season. We’ll be ready to play.”
GEORGIA VS. CLEMSON: Georgia is an impressive 37-10 all-time vs. Clemson. Incidentally, Georgia last meet the Tigers in the 2009 season opener, blanking them 7-0 in Athens on Jan. 27.
The Bulldogs have not lost to Clemson since 2003.
LOOKING AT THE TIGERS: No. 53 Clemson rushed out to a 3-0 start to the 2011 spring campaign with a trio of 7-0 scores vs. Wofford, Presbyterian, and The Citadel.
The Tigers returned five starters from last season in Derek DiFazio, Kevin Galloway, Wes Moran, Zachary Rigsby, and Juan Bolona. Clemson does not have any players ranked to start the season in singles or doubles.
In 2010 the squad went 17-10 overall, including a 3-8 clip in the ACC. They were 0-4 against ranked opponents. Galloway was the singles wins leader, going 23-13 on the season including 10-4 at No. 3.
BULLDOGS IN SEASON OPENERS: Georgia is 46-9 all-time in season-openers and has not lost the first dual match of the season since the 2003 season, when it lost 4-3 to Clemson.
In the 2010 opener, the Bulldogs prevailed by a 5-2 score over USC Upstate in Athens.
LAST TIME OUT: Stacked up against some of the premier talent in the Southeastern Conference and the nation, the No. 11 Georgia men’s tennis team captured both the singles and doubles titles Jan. 17 on the final day of the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships at the University of Tennessee’s Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Following three solid days of tennis and with the most players of any team remaining in the singles and doubles semifinals, Georgia capped off the weekend by picking up both tournament crowns to give the Bulldogs their 49th and 50th all-time SEC Indoor titles.
First the Bulldogs saw the doubles team of Javier Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters – the No. 2 seed – defeat Tennessee’s fourth-seeded Boris Conkic and J.P. Smith by an 8-5 score. That was followed up by junior Wil Spencer’s three-set thriller over the overall No. 1 seed Eric Quigley of Kentucky. Spencer, a 9-16 seed, used a 7-1 decision in the tiebreaker to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1).
Spencer took down each of the top three seeds throughout his run in the tournament.
A STRONG FALL: No. 11 Georgia comes off a strong fall campaign in which the freshman Pieters won the singles title and teamed with Garrapiz for the doubles title at the season-opening Southern Intercollegiates in Athens in September. Garrapiz and junior transfer Sadio Doumbia then took their skills to Tulsa, Okla., in October for the ITA All-America Championships, where Doumbia played his way into the main draw and Garrapiz reached the finals of the consolation draw against some of the nation’s top players. At the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional, it was junior Wil Spencer’s turn to shine, as he became the 10th Bulldog to capture the singles title to earn a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships in Flushing, N.Y.
IN THE RANKINGS: The Bulldogs begin the year ranked No. 11 – the same place they finished the 2010 spring after a run to the NCAA semifinals on their home courts and posted an overall record of 21-8. Garrapiz will start with an individual singles ranking of No. 13, followed by teammates Doumbia (No. 47), Spencer (No. 53), and Pieters (No. 119).
Georgia has two teams rated in doubles, with Garrapiz and Pieters sitting at No. 14 and the pairing of Doumbia and junior Ignacio Taboada ranked No. 23.
ON DECK: UGA will remain at home and host one leg of the 2011 ITA Kickoff next weekend, Jan. 29-30, in Athens. The Bulldogs begin with Oklahoma State on Saturday, and will then take on the winner of the Georgia Tech-North Carolina match on Sunday. Both of Georgia’s matches will be at 2 p.m. The winner of the event earns at automatic bid to the ITA Team Indoors Feb. 17-21 in Seattle.