Daily Dawg Thread: April 25, 2024

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Daily Dawg Thread: April 25, 2024

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WTEN: Drake Bernstein named SEC Coach of the Year

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 The Georgia women’s tennis team was well represented in the Southeastern Conference postseason awards as head coach Drake Bernstein was named Coach of the Year and six Bulldogs earned All-Conference honors, the SEC announced on Wednesday.

In his first season at the helm, Bernstein led the Bulldogs to a 20-4 overall record and a 12-1 mark in SEC play capped off with a share of the SEC regular season title followed by the program’s 10th conference tournament title. Bernstein’s side also achieved 18 wins against SEC opponents in all competitions, marking the first such instance in program history.





Dasha Vidmanova earned First Team All-SEC honors in back-to-back seasons for the Bulldogs. Posting 42 combined wins this season, Vidmanova tallied 19 victories over ranked opponents at the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles, including a three-set thrilling win over the ITA No. 1 singles player Mary Stoiana (Texas A&M).

Georgia had four players represented on the Second Team All-SEC list.

Alexandra Vecic earned her first SEC postseason honor after producing 16 wins on the year with six coming against ITA top-110 ranked players in singles. Despite missing some time during SEC play, Vecic posted a 4-3 record in SEC regular season singles finished matches while leading in her four remaining unfinished contests.





Mell Reasco earned her spot for a second consecutive season after recording 29 combined wins while posting a 17-6 record in doubles at the No. 3 spot. Reasco also posted four wins against ranked singles opponents and went 8-0 in doubles to finish the SEC season.

Anastasiia Lopata recorded 41 victories on the season while going 24-8 in singles at the No. 4 spot and earning 17 doubles wins. Paired with Reasco late in the season, Lopata finished the regular season schedule 8-0 in doubles after entering the mix at the No. 3 spot.

Guillermina Grant rounded out the Bulldogs for Second Team All-SEC honors, posting 50 wins split down the middle with 25 each in singles and doubles while finishing the SEC schedule on a 13-match winning streak at No. 5 singles. Taking home two SEC Player of the Week honors, Grant also earned four wins over ranked doubles opponents and secured five match-clinching victories for the Bulldogs in 2024.

Aysegul Mert made her mark in her first year as she earned a place on the SEC All-Freshman Team, tallying 46 wins at the No. 5 singles spot including 27 wins at the No. 1 doubles spot with Vidmanova. Once becoming a regular part of the singles rotation, Mert won 11 of her last 13 matches going 8-1 in SEC play.

MGOLF: Dawgs in second place at SEC Championships after day one

Georgia golfer Camden Smith (Photo: Tony Walsh/UGAAA)

The No. 23 Georgia men’s golf team ended the first day of the Southeastern Conference Championships in second place on Wednesday morning, paced by freshman Camden Smith’s five-under-par, 65 round on the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Golf Club.

Five Fast Facts

• Smith’s round of 65 set a new collegiate low for the Ponte Vedra, Fla. native, tying him for the fourth-lowest first-round score in SEC Championship history. He led the field in birdies with seven and had the lowest average score on the course’s four par 3s at 2.25.

• Georgia’s team score of 270 on Wednesday marked the program’s lowest first-round score at the SEC Championships since recording a 269 on the opening day of the 2004 SEC tournament.

• Three Bulldogs finished in the top 10 of the individual standings. Senior Caleb Manuel, tied for fourth, and graduate Ben van Wyk, tied for eighth, join Smith who holds the solo lead.

• Georgia was the only school to have multiple players record eagles during the first round. Manuel and van Wyk both finished number 15, a 565-yard, par-five hole in just three strokes.

• Graduate Connor Creasy finished tied with Vanderbilt’s Jackson Van Paris and Florida’s Tyler Wilkes for the most pars during the first round with 16.

Key Quote

“It was great to see the team start off the SEC Championships strong,” head coach Chris Haack said. “These guys have been playing well this semester. That’s the nice thing about having depth on the team – we knew the pieces were there, but we just needed to put it together. Luckily for us, we had a couple of people on the team go low today, which is always a nice way to start it when your first two guys out of the gate are eight-under. That said, we’ve got two more rounds. We’ll need to come out and do it again. We can’t sit on our laurels too long. We’ve got to tee it up again tomorrow morning and keep it going.”

Up Next

Georgia will tee off at 8 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 25 for round two of the SEC Championships. The Bulldogs are paired with first-place Vanderbilt and third-place Auburn. 

2024 SEC Championship

Sea Island Golf Club

St Simons Island, Ga.

Par 70, 7,005 Yards

First Round Results

Team Leaderboard

1.    No. 3 Vanderbilt              269 (-10)

2.    No. 23 Georgia                270 (-9)

3.    No. 1 Auburn                  274 (-6)

4.    No. 22 Texas A&M              276 (-4)

5.    No. 7 Tennessee               277 (-3)

t-6.  No. 11 Arkansas               279 (-1)

t-6.  No. 15 Florida                279 (-1)

8.    No. 5 Ole Miss                281 (+1)

t-9.  No. 9 Alabama                 283 (+3)

t-9.  Kentucky                      283 (+3)

11.   South Carolina                287 (+7)

12.   No. 36 Mississippi State      288 (+8)

13.   No. 38 Missouri               290 (+10)

14.   No. 35 LSU                    293 (+13)

Individual Leaderboard

1.    Camden Smith, Georgia         65 (-5)

t-2.  Jackson Koivun, Auburn        66 (-4)

t-2.  Cole Sherwood, Vanderbilt     66 (-4)

t-4.  Daniel Rodrigues, Texas A&M   67 (-3)

t-4.  Matthew Riedel, Vanderbilt    67 (-3)

t-4.  Kyle Meeks, Ole Miss          67 (-3)

t-4.  Caleb Manuel, Georgia         67 (-3)

t-8.  Ben van Wyk, Georgia          68 (-2)

t-8.  Frankie Harris, S.C.          68 (-2)

t-8.  Jacob Skov Olesen, Arkansas   68 (-2)

t-8.  Hunter Logan, Mississippi St. 68 (-2)

t-8.  Gordon Sargent, Vanderbilt    68 (-2)

t-8.  Cameron Tankersley, Ole Miss  68 (-2)

t-8.  Jack Turner, Florida          68 (-2)

t-8.  Jackson Van Paris, Vanderbilt 68 (-2)

t-8.  Campbell Kremer, Kentucky     68 (-2)

t-8.  Parker Bell, Florida          68 (-2)

Georgia Scores

1.    Camden Smith                  65 (-5)

t-4.  Caleb Manuel                  67 (-3)

t-8.  Ben van Wyk                   68 (-2)

t-27. Buck Brumlow                  70 (E)

t-46. Connor Creasy                 72 (+2)

BSB: Brian Zeldin was named to the 2024 Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List

(Photo: Georgia Sports Communications)

Zeldin, an Atlanta native and graduate transfer for the 17th-ranked Bulldogs, is one of 59 relievers on the midseason list for the award which is given annually to the top relief pitcher in Division I college baseball. The list was pared down from an original 73-man list released in February.

Fast Facts

  • One of the top firemen for the Bulldogs with a 3-1 record, 2.10 ERA and five saves
  • A team-high 15 appearances with 30 strikeouts and 13 walks in 30 innings overall
  • Team-leading 2.38 ERA in SEC action, going 2-1 with two saves in 22.2 innings
  • SEC wins over No. 8 Alabama and at No. 19 Miss. State
  • Registered a pair of saves in helping clinch the series win over Georgia Tech

Key Quote

Georgia’s Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach Wes Johnson on Zeldin

“Brian Zeldin has not only been very good for us on the mound, but he’s also one of the leaders with that staff. He’s extremely intelligent. He studies, his preparation for every series is excellent. For example, this weekend he’s going to know Texas A&M inside and out. He knows how to attack hitters. We wouldn’t been in the position in league play that we’re in without him. His stuff is really good, and his heartbeat is slow. We put him at (Miss.) State, and he never speeds up. We had the game where he sat in the dugout for 45 minutes, and then he comes back in the game and finishes it off. People use the word toughness a lot, and I talk to our guys about true toughness, and that’s really between your ears. It’s what do you think you can do, and can you go do it, and that’s Brian Zeldin.”

Up Next

The Bulldogs (30-10, 9-9 SEC) return to action Friday when they battle top-ranked Texas A&M (36-5, 14-5 SEC) in College Station, Texas for an SEC series. The Aggies are 26-1 at home. Georgia is coming off a 4-3 home win over fourth-ranked Clemson in 15 innings.

WGOLF: Georgia will compete in the NCAA Auburn Regional

(Photo: Georgia Sports Communications)

The No. 23-ranked Georgia women’s golf team will be No. 4 seed at the Auburn Regional of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships. The seeds and assignments for the NCAA’s six Regionals, which will be contested on May 6-8, were announced by the NCAA on Wednesday.

“It’s why you work all year,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “It’s why you start in August, and we are still practicing and trying to improve. At the SECs, we showed what we can do when he have a test. We have another test in front of us. We seem to play well under that pressure so we’re excited.”

Six Regional sites will host 54 holes of stroke play on May 6-8, with the top-5 teams and the low individual finisher who is not a member of those teams going on to compete at the NCAA Championships on May 17-22 at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. In addition to Auburn, Regionals will be held in Bryan, Texas; Cle Elum, Wash.; East Lansing, Mich.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Bulldogs have enjoyed a steady 2023-24 season with contributions throughout the lineup. As a team, Georgia has posted par-or-better scores in 12 of 33 rounds. The Bulldogs have recorded four third-place finishes in seven spring events including each of the last three tournaments. Georgia entered a stacked SEC Championships ranked No. 23 nationally but as the No. 9 seed in the tournament. The Bulldogs finished seventh following 54 holes of stroke play qualifying and knocked off No. 10 Auburn, 3.5-1.5, in the quarterfinals of match play but then fell to No. 16 Texas A&M, 3-2, in the semifinals.

“It’s how we try to do it,” Brewer said. “You’d love to be No. 1 in August or September, but they don’t hand out the most important trophies at that time of year. We try to figure out how to peak in April or May. Now we get to see if we can continue to peak. We’ve had a good trend of doing it recently.”

Individually, Caterina Don has led Georgia in nine of 12 tournaments, posting seven top-10 and 10 10-top finishes. All told, Bulldogs have combined to post 67 par-or-better tallies in 195 individual rounds this season.

“You expect to be in because you’ve worked hard all season, but you don’t know you’re going to be in when you step foot on campus in August,” Don said. “It takes a lot of work to get here, and I think it’s worth celebrating seeing your name up there. We knew we were going to go, but it’s still exciting to see your name up there and know where you’re going to go and who you’re going to be competing with.”

Graduate transfer Napat “Jenny” Lertsadwattana played four seasons at New Mexico and finished 18th individually to lead the Lobos to a top-10 finish at last spring’s NCAA Championships. She enters this year’s nationals confident in herself and her teammates.

“We were all very excited to find out where we were going to go,” Lertsadwattana said. “We all know that wherever we go, we’re going to play well. So there’s not much anxiety about where we’re going to go. It’s more the excitement of knowing where we’re going to go next. It’s something we’ve been working toward for nine months.”

Georgia will be looking to post a fourth straight top-20 finish at the national championships. In 2021, the Bulldogs and Jenny Bae swept the NCAA Columbus Regional titles before finishing 18th at the nationals. In 2022, Georgia was third at the Albuquerque Regional and advancing to the match play portion of the national championships, eventually tying for fifth. Last spring, Georgia and Bae again swept Regional titles on UGA’s home course in Athens and went on to tie for 14th at the NCAA Championships.

“We’re going to just try to have some fun,” Brewer said. “There’s no hiding it, it’s the worst three days of the year as a coach because you’re kind of defined by it. I try to be harder on them earlier in the year and try some things to see what works and what doesn’t. Now you’ve just got to have fun. I want us to play with a smile on our face.”

The format at the NCAAs includes in three rounds of stroke play on May 17-19. The competitors will then be cut to the top-15 teams and the top-9 golfers not on advancing teams. Following a fourth round of stroke play on May 20, the individual national champion will be crowned and the top-8 teams will move on to a seeded match play bracket. Match play quarterfinals and semifinals will be on May 21, followed by the championship match on May 22.

The Bulldogs have historically been one of women’s college golf’s premier programs. Georgia has captured four national titles, winning the team title in 2001 and three individual crowns – Terri Moody in 1981, Cindy Schreyer in 1984 and Vicki Goetze in 1993. In addition, the Bulldogs have recorded 29 top-20 team finishes since 1979, including 21 top-10 performances.

Georgia also has won 10 NCAA Regional titles – six team and four individual – since that format was introduced in 1993. The Bulldogs were team champions at Regionals in 1993, 1998, 1999, 2016, 2021 and 2023. Georgia’s Regional medalists are Reilley Rankin in 1998 in Durham, N.C.; Bailey Tardy in 2016 in Bryan, Texas; and Bae in both 2021 in Columbus, Ohio and 2023 in Athens.

All told, 13 SEC teams earned Regional bids. In addition to the Bulldogs, South Carolina is the No. 1 seed and Auburn is the No. 2 seed in Auburn. LSU is the No. 1 seed in Bryan followed by Texas A&M at No. 2 and Vanderbilt at No. 4. Alabama is the No. 5 seed at Cle Plum. Florida and Kentucky are the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds, respectively, at East Lansing. Arkansas is the No. 2 seed in Las Vegas. In Winston-Salem, Ole Miss is the No. 3 seed, Mississippi State is No. 4 and Tennessee is No. 7. 

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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.

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