Georgia ‘peaking at right time’ after capturing 34th SEC tennis title

The Georgia Bulldogs and coach Manny Diaz just added more SEC hardward to their crowded trophy case. (UGA photo)

The Georgia Bulldogs and coach Manny Diaz just added more SEC hardware to their crowded trophy case. (UGA photo)

Georgia is good in tennis. Everybody knows that. But sometimes it’s hard to truly appreciate the level of success the Bulldogs enjoy in that sport.

Georgia’s men’s team captured their 34th SEC championship this past weekend in Starkville, Miss. Just let that number wash over you for a few seconds. Then think about this one: The title was the 14th for coach Manny Diaz. That’s one more than the legendary Dan Magill, for whom Georgia’s vast tennis complex is named.

“Last night on the bus ride home it kind of hit me — I mean, 34, my Lord,” said Diaz, still groggy after rolling in at nearly 2 a.m. Monday. “It’s a lot of championships and just a whole lot of guys who made it happen. And I was thinking about Coach Magill. In my mind, this was for him.”

Magill, 91, was Diaz’s coach at Georgia and Diaz served as his assistant for many years.

As it often has, Georgia’s championship came with considerable drama. The Bulldogs won the title by knocking off No. 1 seed Kentucky 4-1 in the finals. The Wildcats (26-5) handed Georgia (23-2) one of its two defeats in the regular season, so there was a bit of revenge involved. And the final score belies the competitiveness of the match. Kentucky was ahead in the two uncompleted singles competitions.

“Our previous encounter with Kentucky was a loss that really hurt,” Diaz said. “Our goal was to learn from that day. We felt like we’d had the match in hand and probably tried too hard. I think today we showed maturity, and that’s necessary to close out an important match against a very good team. This was a big moment of growth for us and proved that that loss was a turning point.”

It’s not like the Bulldogs got an easy route to the championship. They had to get by No. 9 Mississippi State — playing on its home court — in the semifinals. Georgia squeaked by 4-3 with Wil Spencer clinching the match at No. 1 singles.

“A packed house, a phenomenal atmosphere, Mississippi State playing probably some of the best tennis as a group I’ve ever seen played,” Diaz said. “We came back at the top two positions where we’ve struggled at times and came behind. We made a huge statement and I think our team is just starting to play.”

Suddenly, everything seems possible again for the Bulldogs. Not that it was ever in doubt, but Sunday’s victory — Georgia’s seventh in a row — gives them an automatic bid into next month’s NCAA tournament. They just so happen to play host to the NCAA Championships next month in Athens.

Sunday marked their first SEC tournament title since 2007 (eighth overall). That same year Georgia hosted the national championships and captured the title.

“I am so happy for the guys,” said senior Ignacio Taboada of Atlanta, who clinched the Kentucky match at No. 4 singles and was named tournament MVP. “We are peaking at the right time.”

The Bulldogs have definitely served notice. Georgia has won six national titles in men’s tennis. Five of those came when it hosted the national championships.

Here’s the scorecard from Sunday’s title match:

No. 4 Georgia 4, No. 6 Kentucky 1

Singles:
1. #3 Eric Quigley (UK) def. #11 Wil Spencer (UGA) 6-1, 7-5
2. #24 KU Singh (UGA) vs. #14 Alex Musialek (UK) 3-6, 4-5, unfinished
3. #29 Sadio Doumbia (UGA) vs. #19 Anthony Rossi (UK) 2-6, 5-6, unfinished
4. #44 Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. #76 Tom Jomby (UK) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. #110 Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-2, 6-2
6. #63 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #112 Panav Jha (UK) 6-1, 6-0

Doubles
1. Sadio Doumbia/Hernus Pieters (UGA) vs. #12 Panav Jha/Eric Quigley (UK) 7-5, unfinished
2. Nathan Pasha/Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. #37 Alex Musialek/Anthony Rossi (UK) 8-4
3. Wil Spencer/KU Singh (UGA) def. Tom Jomby/Alejandro Gomez (UK) 8-3

Notes
Kentucky 26-5; Georgia 23-2.
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,5,1,4)

39 comments Add your comment

Frank Lane

April 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

Wow, McGill was coach when I was at UGA in the early 60’s so we must have had 7 conference titles before that. How many years has there been an SEC title is tennis at all?

Homerville

April 23rd, 2012
9:15 am

Funny how there is no mention of the baseball team losing 2 out of 3 over the weekend in Gville.

LHarding Dawg

April 23rd, 2012
9:18 am

Homer – The artical was about tennis! Geeee!!!

SEC baseball

April 23rd, 2012
9:24 am

is still playing out. SEC tennis tournament trumps a regular season baseball series, especially in this state where UGA tennis is a national contender practically every year.

Burdell

April 23rd, 2012
9:26 am

Congrats to the UGA Men’s Tennis team…the record speaks for itself. Pretty good collegiate golf and tennis in this state…

GO JACKETS!

@Frank Lane

April 23rd, 2012
9:27 am

The same thing puzzles me. I have been following UGA tennis since 1963, and thought Coach Magill started the championship runs.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

April 23rd, 2012
9:34 am

We’re # 1 in tennis and horseback riding…which is good..however……Meanwhile the Bucs OL told a reporter yesterday they’ll try their best to be the best OL in college football.
You don’t hear that coming out of Athens…

logical jacket

April 23rd, 2012
9:44 am

Magill actually won 21 league titles….

quote: ( In his 34-year tenure as head coach, Magill’s teams won a record 13 SEC outdoor championships and eight SEC indoor league titles )

slydog

April 23rd, 2012
9:53 am

So let me get this straight. Georgia has 34 SEC titles in tennis!!! Amazing accomplishment but this speaks profoundly about the mediocrity of the football program.

Zebra

April 23rd, 2012
10:13 am

Funny how there was also no mention of how Fla. didn’t win the conference for 58 straight years. He just left out all kinds of relevant stuff.

Jeff

April 23rd, 2012
10:23 am

He also didn’t mention in his article that I had tacos for supper last night. We’ve had armchair coaches, ADs, so why not armchair journalists too?!

@slydog

April 23rd, 2012
10:32 am

As a UGA grad, it speaks more to me of what a diversified and well-rounded athletic program we have. Being a Georgia fan, I would think you are impressed with 30+ national titles in 8 different sports, and closing on 140 SEC championships in multiple sports. Sure, we have had a downturn in football compared to Richt’s first 5 seasons, but all the signs are there that we will soon be back winning SEC championships again, and as the last few years have shown, that is usually harder than winning a NC in football.

RHall55

April 23rd, 2012
10:49 am

I agree w/ Dixie Redcoat Band!!! The OL has been a concern over the last several years and we are hearing that same story again!! From Coach Will Friend’s recruiting efforts the OL is in trouble!! So far, not impressed at all with him replenishing the cupboard!! C’mon Man, do your job!!!

Vance

April 23rd, 2012
10:50 am

What a great accomplishment! What a stellar record the tennis program has! I wonder how many players of this championship team will graduate (most likely all of them). Success in sports and academics are not mutually exclusive. Go Dawgs!

Chuck

April 23rd, 2012
11:11 am

Yes Homerville, this city is not short on the Homer-Simpson-esque, thanks to the generous contributions of guys like you.

humanpanty

April 23rd, 2012
11:25 am

winning two out of three doubles matches count as one point. The article is correct. Best of 7 won 4-1.

FYI

April 23rd, 2012
12:34 pm

The SEC Indoor tournament is not a recognized championship by the conference. It is a coaches tourney. We did not win the first SEC Championship until 1970. And this is the 8th tournament TEAM title for UGA since we began recognizing it officially in 1990.
We now have two official SEC Championships being recognized equally, a regular season championship and a tournament. The winner of the tournament has the official conference entry into the NCAA tournament.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

April 23rd, 2012
1:02 pm

At big time programs like Bama, LSU, So. Cal.,etc., they expect to win the NC.
At UGA, we hope and pray to try and win the SEC East.

ahscoach

April 23rd, 2012
1:04 pm

For those that may not know, the SEC is the country’s best conference in tennis as well……An absolutely awesome accomplishment by an amazing program…it is ashamed it sometimes goes unnoticed….thanks for the article.

thetruth

April 23rd, 2012
1:36 pm

Zebra its also funny how he left out waht an idiot you are isn’t it?….You can’t quantify those 58 titles SEC titles you meantioned because it NEVER happend…!

ole dawg

April 23rd, 2012
1:42 pm

@THE Dixie… please don’t use “UGA” and “we” in the same sentence again.

Zebra

April 23rd, 2012
1:44 pm

Hey the truth, is English your 2nd language or is that spelling the result of a Fla education?

From 1933 until 1991 is 58 years or would you understand it better if I spelled it yares?

Chip Towers

April 23rd, 2012
2:08 pm

Bobo is Not the Problem: The final was 4-1. Whomever takes at least two of three doubles matches gets one point for doubles, which Georgia won. . . .

On the championships, they have calibrated them different ways over the years. It used to be decided by a points system that combined regular season performance with conference tourney performance. Since 2001 (I think), the tournament champ gets automatic berth into NCAA round of 64 a la basketball, but there’s also a regular-season champ. So effectively there’s an opportunity to win two titles per year. There’s no longer an indoor champion, which Magill won eight times. Suffice it to say, Georgia’s very good in tennis and has won way more SEC titles than any other team by far.

Bama Pride

April 23rd, 2012
2:20 pm

Congrats to UGA Tennis – I have seen the UGA Tennis Complex and it is impressive.
I remember a few years back reading about UGA and Stanford in an epic battle for a National Title in Athens – crowd was said to be pretty rowdy. Bring back another Tennis National Title and make the SEC proud!

Good thing UGA is good at tennis, horse riding, softball and golf – as the other sports are usually good – but nothing special. Gymnastics has fallen back a bit – opening the door for Alabama and Florida.

As for football – I am not so sure UGA will win the SEC EAST – but will be in the thick of it.
Here is my take for the SEC EAST:
USCe will win with a 6-2 record (losing to LSU and ARK (prediction for now).
Florida will be second – also with a 6-2 record (losing to USCe and LSU)
UGA will be third – BUT will also sport a 6-2 record (losing to USCe and Gators).

Why USCe?
– Spurrier has beaten Richt the last two years – and USCe now believes they are the better program.
– USCe defense will be excellent, Oline will be good – Lattimore – and Conner Shaw will not make the dumb mistakes and silly turnovers that are the hall mark of Murray at UGA.

UGA/FLORIDA
Close game last year with exciting 4th down TD catches. So it was the Dogs day last year.
Florida will be better on defense, their Oline is better than UGA’s – no charlie weiss!!
Year 2 of Muschamp will see improvement.
I can’t miss game – Gators will be prepared
Should be very competitive.

Other tight games for UGA – but should win:
Mizzou – look for a good game here – but UGA should win this one.
Hopefully, UGA’s OLINE will punish MO D-Line and UGA wins the 4Q by pounding their talented RB’s.

Tennessee – interesting season for TN.
Bray could be the better QB over Murray. UGA did not put a not so good Vols team away last year as they should have. Vols OLINE will be better than UGA’s – key here is that Vols defense needs to evolve into the 3/4 – much like UGA did in 2009 – growing pains switching from 4/3 to 3/4.
This has potential to be a close game as UGA was the only a good team last year.

Auburn – always a must see – much like WLOCP.
A weird series – upsets galore. hard hitting. Love this game as it previews to ALABAMA what AUBURN is doing and is always so physical. UGA set’s Auburn up – ALABAMA cleans up the rest.
Auburn will have a good defense this year – and Coach BVG and Martinez will have AUB ready for UGA. Not sure about AUBURNS offense – but this staff is solid and AUB never quits.

Here are the can’t miss SEC games – outside of all the BAMA games:
UGA at MO – first SEC game for MO
FL at TXAM – first SEC game for TXAM
LSU/FL
LSU/AUB
LSU/ARK
LSU/TXAM
ARK/TXAM
ARK/AUB
ARK/USCe
AUB/TXAM
UGA/USCe
UGA/FL – WLOCP
UGA/TN
UGA/AUB
TN/FL
TN/USCe
USCe/LSU
USCe/FL

As an SEC fan – can’t wait for the season.
As a BAMA fan – ROLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!

Again – congrats to UGA Tennis – now get a NT!

.

Bama Pride

April 23rd, 2012
2:30 pm

Hey Chip – just curious, How does UGA stack up nationally with National Titles etc against the other tennis power teams (Stanford, UCLA, etc.) Is UGA the all time best tennis program? I would think that Stanford would be – but UGA has to be a top 5 program historically.

Also, who would have thought Mississippi State was that good. Good for MSU.

Last thing – like swimming, is college tennis being dominated by foreign students?
Tennis is more popular in other parts of the world than in the USA.

Thank you for replying.

Bama Pride

April 23rd, 2012
2:57 pm

All right guys – some Tennis history
All time National Titles/Runner ups
1. USC – 19 NTs, 8 runner ups
2. Stanford – 17 NTs, 4 runner ups
3. UCLA – 15 NT’s, 13 runner ups
4. UGA – 6 NT’s – 7 runner ups

Other SEC schools of interest:
Tennessee – 3 Runner ups
Vandy – 1 Runner up
LSU 1 Runner up

Good job UGA.

Dawg Haus

April 23rd, 2012
3:00 pm

Truly incredible! Coach Diaz is doing a phenomenal job and UGA tennis really deserves more coverage. Going to tennis matches was one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon back when I was at UGA.

Thanks, Chip, for writing such a good piece on these DGDs. Keep it up, Dawgs! Bring that national title home to Athens, where it belongs!

Dawg Haus

April 23rd, 2012
3:04 pm

Wow, Bama Pride! USC has 19? Dawgs have some catching up to do. Go SEC!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Oakdale Dawg

April 23rd, 2012
3:20 pm

Bama Pride, I would guess if you looked at titles over the past 25 or so years (maybe since 1985), the 4 teams you named are pretty close. The 3 California teams dominated the 60’s, 70’s and first half of the 80’s, and then Georgia joined the club. All of Georgia’s 6 titles are since 1985.

BobDawg

April 23rd, 2012
3:48 pm

BAMA PRIDE: nice stats and as a former Dawg tennis player, I’m very proud. Stanford, USC and UCLA ruled the courts during the 50’s,60’s into the 70’s but Magill kept ramping the program up and Diaz has kept it going

FYI

April 23rd, 2012
4:48 pm

Let’s just go back 15 years and here is how the top programs stack up. Just listing the ones that have won national championships since 97′, including other Final 2 and Final Four finishes. No doubt who has the best record nationally in the last 15 years.
UGA 4 NC, 4 Finals, 3 SF
USC 3 NC, 0 Finals, 1 SF
Stanford 3 NC, 0 Finals, 1 SF
UCLA 2 NC, 1 Final, 3 SF
Baylor 1 NC, 1 Final, 0 SF

Dawg Bite

April 23rd, 2012
6:32 pm

Several of my fraternity brothers were on the UGA tennis team in the late 50’s, and while these guys were very good players, they all would talk about how good the West coast players were. In addition to USC,UCLA, Stanford, Pepperdine was to be reckoned with also.Thanks to Coach Magill the bar was raised on UGA tennis, and Coach Diaz has kept it going. Congrats to this years bunch, now go get the NC!

BobDawg

April 24th, 2012
7:25 am

I would encourage any sports fan out there to come to Athens for the NCAA’s… Usually around May 23rd and quite an event. Tons of volunteers from Athens support the event and well run. Bring your suntan lotion and watch the future John Isners on the courts….

SugarHillDawg

April 24th, 2012
7:30 am

Yeah, winning a tennis championship doesn’t compare to winning an equestrian.What the HELL!Guess we can can kick ass in sports that don’t matter.

Dawg Alum

April 24th, 2012
8:59 am

I’m especially proud of the Dawgs because they excel in the sports where the athletes are consistently the brightest (ie. Tennis, softball, golf, swimming and gymnastics). They have been the overall best in the SEC and possibly nation in these sports for over 20 years. Check the stats….these are the sports that boast the most Academic All Americans and the UGa average of these athletes is higher than the overall student body. This is also true for Tech, Bama, Florida, etc. I know football is the king and the sport we all hang our hats on, but too bad that is the case because these “other” sports are where most of the STUDENT athletes reside.

Dawg Alum

April 24th, 2012
9:02 am

That is “Grade Point” average……sorry, I left out GPA.

Bama Pride

April 24th, 2012
9:21 am

No doubt, UGA has built the tennis program into a national elite entity.
Much like Tennessee basketball under Pat Summitt.
Much like UGA Gymnastics under – Yocaland?
Much like Kentucky basketball under varous coaches.
And much like BAMA FOOTBALL!

Again – great job for UGA setting the bar high and achieving those goals. Great to see an SEC school domintate nationally on a consistent basis.

RTR!

MeTDawg

April 25th, 2012
10:13 am

Georgia—mediocre in football, basketball and baseball, but good in tennis!!! YES!!!!! Give mcgarity a huge raise and bonus!!!