ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 14 Georgia Bulldog men’s tennis team continues conference action against Ole Miss and Arkansas on Friday and Sunday.
The Bulldogs seek their first SEC win on Friday in Oxford, Mississippi at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center at 6 p.m. ET. Then, Georgia travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas to square off with the Razorbacks at the Billingsley Tennis Center at 2 p.m. ET.
No. 31 Ole Miss and No. 49 Arkansas mark Georgia’s eighth and ninth-ranked opponents in the last 10 matches – including four in the top-10. Last week, Georgia swept the then-No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, before heading indoors due to rain on Sunday, dropping a 4-1 matchup with the then-No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies.
The Rebels have garnered a 2-2 record in SEC play this year, with a 9-5 record overall. The Ole Miss doubles lineup features a pair of top-30 duos in No. 15 Tim Sandkaulen and Fabian Fallert, and No. 28 Filip Kraljevic and Zvonimir Babic.
To open fall action, Georgia played host to Arkansas during the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, but the Razorbacks fell to Memphis in the first round, and the two teams did not meet. In 2017 in a match that lasted over four hours indoors, Georgia came back from a 3-2 deficit with singles wins from Duncan and Loeb to take the match 4-3. The Bulldogs have only dropped two all-time contests to the Razorbacks, with the last coming in 2004 in the first weekend of SEC play, though Georgia responded to win an SEC Championship the same year.
If outdoors, Ole Miss Live Streaming will be available: http://gado.gs/8p0
THE COMMON DOUBLES DENOMINATORS
After teaming with Paul Oosterbaan on the second court his freshman year and posting a 19-9 record, junior Jan Zielinski has remained on the first doubles court the past two years. Thanks to Robert Loeb as Zielinski’s doubles counterpart, the 2017 season ended in All-American fashion, and with 38 doubles wins in a single season, Zielinski also matched John Isner at third in the Georgia record books. After a slow start with Loeb in 2018, the first doubles court now features Zielinski at No. 1 with Walker Duncan, who formerly paired with senior Wayne Montgomery. Montgomery, who has notched 83 doubles wins in his four-year career at Georgia across the second and third courts, is now joined by sophomore Nathan Ponwith.
CONSISTENCY KEY FOR LOWER GEORGIA COURTS
The fourth, fifth and singles courts have combined for a 22-5 clip on the dual play season. The three courts have featured five different Bulldogs, but the mainstays include Walker Duncan at No. 4, Jan Zielinski at No. 5 and Robert Loeb at No. 6. Zielinski and Duncan lead the charge with respective nine and seven wins, with each dropping only one match apiece. The lower courts have also clinched all but one match this season: the most recent clinches coming from Loeb on the sixth court, Zielinski has also closed out the match for Georgia on three separate occasions.
GEORGIA AGAINST TOP-RANKED OPPONENTS
The Bulldogs responded to a two-loss weekend in SEC play by shutting out the second-ranked team in the country, Ohio State. The last time Georgia found success against a top-two team came in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, when the No. 7 Bulldogs blanked the second-ranked North Carolina Tarheels to advance to the Final Four. In regular season play, the Bulldogs’ knockoff of Ohio State marks the highest-ranked opponent Georgia has topped since 2014, when the Buckeyes fell 4-3 as the No. 1 team in the country. That year, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 16 at the time –and beat the top squad in a five and a half hour match that was moved indoors due to high winds.
SHAKEUP PRODUCES RESULTS
Following two dropped matches to open SEC play, Georgia switched up the doubles and singles lineups against No. 2 Ohio State. Walker Duncan moved from his second doubles spot to the first, joining Jan Zielinski for the first time since fall of 2016 to shut out the seventh-ranked team in the nation. The pair finished the fall slate with an 8-1 record, highlighted by a doubles tournament win at the 2016 Southern Intercollegiates in Athens. Nathan Ponwith also shifted from the third to the second doubles courts, teaming with Wayne Montgomery to clinch the doubles point for the Bulldogs. On the third, Alex Diaz and Robert Loeb played together for the first time and were tied at five when doubles play completed.
GEORGIA FLEXES DEPTH IN DUAL PLAY
Seven different Bulldogs have posted wins in singles this year, with three different Georgia players 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.