ATHENS — They’ve done it again.
While many of Georgia’s spring teams struggled this weekend, the Bulldogs’ men tennis team prevailed once again and continues to occupy its place atop the SEC mountain. After sharing the regular-season title with Texas A&M, to whom it lost in the regular-season finale, Georgia regrouped and went to Knoxville this weekend and conquered yet another SEC Tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Bulldogs (18-7) did it with a hard-fought 4-3 battle over fifth-seeded Mississippi State. The title was secured when Emil Reinberg battled back from a 5-2 deficit in a second-set tiebreaker at No. 3 singles. Reinberg, who went 3-0 in singles and 2-1 doubles in Knoxville, took the tiebreaker 8-6 and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
It was Georgia’s 10th SEC tournament title overall and its first since 2013. Even more impressive, the Bulldogs now have won 41 SEC championships, including 31 regular-season titles. Under head coach Manny Diaz, Georgia has won 28 titles in 29 seasons.
“I have had a lot of fun this year working with a very young group,” Diaz said Sunday. “Even though we lost a lot of early matches, these kids have really matured and shown tremendous resilience and fight. The future is bright.”
Two freshmen, three sophomores — and no seniors — were among the seven players who competed for Georgia in the tournament finals.
Reinberg’s clincher came in a match that lasted more than three hours at the University of Tennessee’s Barksdale Stadium. Joining the sophomore from Atlanta on the 2017 SEC All-Tournament Team was Wayne Montgomery.
“At Georgia, it is all about the team and not the individual,” Reinberg said. “We just play for each other and that was obvious this weekend. I am always bound to go three sets but I really wanted to keep it in that second set, and I was able to do that. Again, it’s not about me, its about this team, and I am so fortunate to be a part of this program.”
The Bulldogs will return to Athens and tune into the NCAA tournament selection show on Tuesday evening 5 p.m. ET. Following first- and second-round action on campuses across the country May 12-13, UGA will serve as host for the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships May 18-29 in Athens.
The netters’ championship victory came on the same day Georgia’s baseball team suffered a home sweep at the hands of Florida and the softball team dropped the second of three versus South Carolina. The Bulldogs’ women’s tennis team bowed out against Auburn in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.
UGA Sports Communication’s staff contributed to this report.