Men’s Tennis: Diaz Enters 30th Season As Georgia Prepares for National Indoor Championship

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Men’s Tennis: Diaz Enters 30th Season As Georgia Prepares for National Indoor Championship

Head coach Manuel Diaz – NCAA Round of 16 –Georgia vs USC – May 18, 2017
Head coach Manuel Diaz – NCAA Round of 16 –Georgia vs USC – May 18, 2017

 

The fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldog men’s tennis team travels to Seattle, Washington to face off with No. 14 Columbia in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs secured a spot in the championship with victories over Iowa and Memphis during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in January, held in Athens. The 16-team field consists of the 15 other qualifying teams, as well as the host school, the University of Washington.

Georgia seeks its third ITA Indoor Championship in program history this weekend – the first two came in 2006 and 2007 under head coach Manuel Diaz.

Live scoring will be available for all matches: http://gado.gs/8hu. For the latest on men’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter (@UGAtennis), Instagram (@ugatennis) and Facebook (UGA Men’s Tennis).

 

GEORGIA IN SEC WEEKLY HONORS

17th-ranked senior Wayne Montgomery was named Co-SEC Player of the Week alongside Tennessee’s senior Luis Valero, the league announced Wednesday. The accolade marks Montgomery’s fifth weekly award from the SEC in his career, including two Player of the Week honors and three SEC Freshman of the Week. He was also named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2015, the first for the Georgia men’s tennis program since John Isner. Since then, sophomore Nathan Ponwith won SEC Freshman of the Week in 2016 – he was the first SEC player in history to win the Freshman of the Week award five times.

Montgomery went 3-0 in singles and doubles to guide Georgia to its 2-0 week. The senior allowed only one opponent to win more than one set against him, and it came against the 39th-ranked Georgia Tech sophomore Carlos Divar in a 6-1, 6-2 outing. In 2018 action, Montgomery has won all seven of his singles matches in straight sets, including the last four on the first court in dual play. Montgomery shares the doubles court with junior Walker Duncan, and the pair leads the Bulldogs in dual play with three wins. With the doubles win against Georgia Tech, the duo improves to six-straight completed match victories for an overall 11-4 clip.

 

ITA NATIONAL INDOORS

Georgia punched its ticket to the 43rd ITA National Indoor Tournament with its two wins over Iowa and Memphis in the ITA Kick-off Weekend, held in Athens, Georgia in January. Similar to their fourth-ranked national ranking, the Bulldogs were determined as the fourth seed based on a National Rankings Committee. Georgia is one of three SEC teams to represent the conference, the second-most of any league in the nation. While the host school, the University of Washington, received an automatic bid, each of the next 15 teams in the indoor competition qualified through their respective ITA Kick-off sites. Virginia won the 2017 ITA Indoor title before going on to win the 2017 NCAA Championship that May, but Stanford still maintains the most indoor championships with 12. Georgia ranks fifth with two championships, alongside California, Illinois, Pepperdine and SMU, and fourth in final appearances with seven, tied with Virginia.

 

GEORGIA FLEXES DEPTH IN DUAL SINGLES PLAY

In 16 completed singles matches during dual play, Georgia has won all but one contest. Wayne Montgomery and Jan Zielinski lead with four victories, while Nathan Ponwith totals three on the third court. Seven different Bulldogs have posted wins, with Paul Oosterbaan and Robert Loeb each taking turns on the sixth court. Behind the top-ranked Wake Forest Deacons with six, Georgia is one of only two teams in the ITA/Oracle Tennis Rankings to total five ranked singles players. Texas A&M also boasts five ranked players in the singles lineup. 

 

Robert Loeb – NCAA Final Four – UGA vs. UNC – May 22, 2017
Robert Loeb – NCAA Final Four – UGA vs. UNC – May 22, 2017

 

LAST TIME AGAINST COLUMBIA

At the MLK/Georgia Tech Invitational in January, Georgia faced players against Columbia, picking up eight wins. Montgomery, Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski topped Adam Abrozy, Rian Pandole and William Matheson in straight sets, respectively. Paul Oosterbaan also picked up his first win since returning from injury against No. 122 Timothy Wang, 6-1, 6-1.The Bulldogs also notched three of four doubles wins with the pairs of Oosterbaan-Ponwith, Montgomery-Duncan and Reinberg-Diaz. Oosterbaan and Ponwith picked up a 7-5 win over the No. 31 Jack Lin-William Matheson tandem.

 

GEORGIA SWEEPS TECH

Georgia posted wins against every Georgia Tech player faced in 2018 action at both the MLK/Georgia Tech Invitational and USTA College MatchDay. In front of a nationally televised audience on the Tennis Channel on Friday, the Bulldogs swept Tech at the USTA National Campus. Georgia has now won 31 of the last 32 meetings against the Yellow Jackets, including a 64-9 lead in the all-time series. The first meeting between the two teams this season, Georgia participated in the MLK/Georgia Tech Invitational from Jan. 13-15, winning nine contests over the Yellow Jackets, which did not count as a dual match. 

 

2017 FALL HIGHLIGHTS

Walker Duncan led the Bulldogs in the fall with 15 singles wins, followed by Wayne Montgomery and Jan Zielinski, who had 14 and 12, respectively. Duncan posted a team-best seven wins over ranked opponents, while Zielinski had six. At the ITA Southeast Regional, the four semifinal spots featured three Bulldogs for the second year in a row: Duncan, Montgomery, and Zielinski. Duncan was the ultimate victor in the final with a 6-2, 6-3 win against Montgomery.

 

SAME RETURNING SQUAD

Georgia returns each letter winner from a team that went 22-8 en route to a SEC regular season and tournament championship as well as a berth in the NCAA semifinals for the second-straight season. In 2018, the Bulldogs seek their sixth-straight SEC title. Among the returners are five All-SEC players, including 2017 SEC Freshman of the Year Nathan Ponwith, three-time All-SEC member Wayne Montgomery and 2017 ITA All-Americans Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski. Redshirt senior Paul Oosterbaan also returns to the Georgia roster after missing most of last season due to injury.

 

Nathan Ponwith – NCAA Final Four – UGA vs. UNC – May 22, 2017
Nathan Ponwith – NCAA Final Four – UGA vs. UNC – May 22, 2017

 

SIX STRAIGHT?

Georgia, winners of the last five SEC titles, will look to make it six in a row for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs have won five-straight twice, from 1971-1975, and 2013-2017. In the preseason poll, the league coaches chose Texas A&M to win the title.

Year Record SEC Record Final Rank

2013 26-5 11-1 3   

2014 18-8 10-2 9   

2015 24-5 10-2 8   

2016 24-5 12-0 7   

2017 22-8 11-1 7   

 

DIAZ ENTERS 30TH SEASON

Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz enters his 30th season at the helm of the program. In addition to four National Championships, two National Indoor Titles and 41 total SEC crowns, Diaz’s teams have finished ranked in the top-10 in 26 of 29 seasons, including the last seven years. This year, Diaz added former Georgia tennis player Jamie Hunt to his staff as the associate head coach. Hunt was a member of the 2007 and 2008 National Championship teams, as well as the 2006 and 2007 ITA National Indoor titles, at Georgia and most recently served as the associate head coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores. 

 

 

 

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Greg is closing in on 11 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.