The Dan Magill Tennis Complex at UGA is about to see a lot of action over the next few weeks, with Georgia playing host to the NCAA team and individual tournaments.
The first round of the team portion will be underway Friday. Georgia will host the first and second rounds, along with the Round of 16 and then the individual tournament throughout the next two weeks.
Yes, a lot of tennis. And UGA fans should enjoy it, because the event won’t be back for awhile.
Both Bulldog men’s and women’s teams are set to host the opening rounds in Athens this weekend. Let’s break down the teams:
Georgia women’s tennis
The SEC tournament didn’t go quite as planned for the Georgia women’s tennis team. The then-No. 4 Bulldogs took a 4-1 loss to then-No. 12 Auburn in the quarterfinals of the tournament. But Georgia has a chance to right the disappointment in the NCAA tournament.
The good news for the Bulldogs is that the team has yet to lose a match to opponents ranked outside of the top 25. If this trend keeps up, Georgia potentially wouldn’t face another top 25 team until the third round of the tournament, as No. 12 Pepperdine would likely be the Bulldogs’ opponents if both teams make it through the first two rounds of play.
In the opening rounds, the Bulldogs begin play at noon on Saturday with a match against South Carolina State, the winner moving on to play the winner of No. 29 North Carolina State and No. 40 Oregon on Sunday.
This is the 31st consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Georgia women’s team.
This year, Georgia’s greatest weapons are potentially Elena Christofi and Ellen Perez. Christofi is currently the fifth-highest ranked freshman in the nation, while Perez holds down the No. 12 spot in the ITA singles rankings released on May 4.
In doubles, expect Perez to be partnered with lone senior Caroline Brinson. The Perez-Brinson duo is currently ranked as the No. 3 doubles team in the nation, per the most recent ITA rankings.
Christofi will likely be partnered with Kennedy Shaffer. The tandem is ranked at No. 37 with an overall record of 13-4.
Georgia men’s tennis
While the women’s team’s appearance in the SEC tournament could have turned out better, the opposite held for the men’s team: Georgia won its 10th SEC tournament title, defeating Mississippi State for the Bulldogs’ first conference title since 2013.
Like the women’s team, the men are set to host the first two rounds of the tournament this weekend at home beginning on Friday. Seeded at No. 13, Georgia is the highest ranked SEC team in the team’s 39th NCAA tournament appearance.
The Bulldogs are set to face Florida A&M at 2 p.m. on Friday. The winner will take on the victor of South Florida and Duke on Saturday afternoon.
Leading the way for Georgia is the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the nation, Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski. The duo just recently received All-American honors along with a top seed in the NCAA doubles championship, which will follow the team championships in two weeks time.
All of Georgia’s main singles players are also ranked among the nation’s best. Wayne Montgomery comes in at No. 33 with Nathan Ponwith and Emil Reinberg holding down the No. 56 and 59 spot, respectively.
Expect to see Ponwith and Reinberg in as the second doubles team behind Loeb and Zielinski; the Ponwith/Reinberg duo emerged as the No. 67 in the nation.
Georgia has a slew of tennis players ranked nationally across the board, both men’s and women’s, singles and doubles, but rankings can mean very little out on the court, especially during the NCAA tournament.
Both Georgia tennis teams will have a chance to advance on their home courts in Athens this weekend, but regardless of the recent success of the teams or the high rankings, it could still be anyone’s game, especially if Georgia can make it through the opening rounds in Athens.