Men’s Tennis: Georgia vs. Arkansas in SEC Tournament Today

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Men’s Tennis: Georgia vs. Arkansas in SEC Tournament Today

Georgia’s Nathan Ponwith during the Bulldogs' match against Ohio State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2017. (Photo by Steffenie Burns)
Georgia’s Nathan Ponwith during the Bulldogs’ match against Ohio State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2017. (Photo by Steffenie Burns)

ATHENS, Ga. – The Georgia Bulldog men’s tennis team returns to action this weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the 2018 Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The eighth-seeded Bulldogs (12-9, 5-7 SEC) will play Arkansas (13-13, 4-8), the ninth seed, on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. In the regular season, the Razorbacks edged Georgia 4-3 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in a contest that came down to the final singles match.
Georgia heads to the SEC Tournament following an undefeated SEC weekend against No. 22 Vanderbilt and No. 18 Kentucky. The victory against the Wildcats featured a match-clinching win from redshirt freshman Alex Diaz, who earned SEC Freshman of the Week for the second-set tiebreak win.
Georgia has totaled 10 SEC Tournament titles in history, with the most recent crown coming last season in 2017 against Mississippi State. After victories against Arkansas and Florida in Knoxville, Tennessee, Georgia locked itself in a 3-3 battle with the Bulldogs from Starkville. 2017 SEC Tournament MVP Emil Reinberg battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the second-set tiebreaker to secure Georgia’s fifth straight SEC title.
The quarterfinals will be played at 4 p.m. on Friday, and the semifinals are set for 2 p.m. on Saturday. The championship match is slated for Sunday at 12 p.m. on SEC Network.
A win on Sunday would mark the Bulldogs’ sixth-straight SEC title. Georgia has won five-straight conference championships twice, from 1971-1975, and 2013-2017. Since 2012, Georgia has been crowned either the regular season champion, the tournament champion or both, in every campaign. The 2018 title would also mark Georgia’s first back-to-back SEC Tournament titles since 2012 and 2013, one of two times the program has produced consecutive tournament championships.
Year Record SEC Record Final ITA 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
After delivering the match-clinching win against No. 18 Kentucky to cap Georgia’s regular season, Diaz was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. With his team locked in a 3-3 battle with the Wildcats, the Athens native won a second-set tiebreaker, 7-5, against Gus Benson to secure Georgia’s second consecutive conference victory. The win marked his fourth of the season and second in the last two weeks. Diaz has filled a key position for the Bulldogs this season, including a third singles spot with Emil Reinberg in recent weeks. The Diaz-Reinberg tandem has clinched three of the last six matches.
After posting victories on the third, fourth and fifth singles courts this season, Bulldog junior Jan Zielinski has added second singles to his repertoire, defeating three-straight opponents – two of the trio ranked – in his most recent role. In 18 completed matches during dual play this year, the Warsaw, Poland native has won all but two contests, which ranks fifth in the conference’s singles’ leaders, and the only competitors in the conference with fewer dropped matches total eight completed contests. In his overall career, the junior has collected a 41-16 clip in dual action.
In doubles, the junior also leads the Bulldogs with a 20-15 overall clip, primarily on the first court. Zielinski boasts an Oracle/ITA ranking on two different doubles teams, one with Robert Loeb and the other with Walker Duncan. At 78 total wins, the junior is two doubles wins away from breaking into the top-20 all-time Bulldogs in career doubles wins.
Bulldog senior Wayne Montgomery, a member of the 2018 SEC Community Service Team, will finish his college career ranked in Georgia’s all-time career singles wins list. Currently, the Somerset West, South Africa native has 116 total career singles wins, which ties Georgia associate head coach Jamie Hunt for 12th all-time in Bulldog history. Montgomery is just two shy of moving into the top-10.
The veteran of the six singles courts, Montgomery holds the second-most wins on the first court at 27. At 10-9 in dual play, the highest-ranked Bulldog at No. 33 has been a crucial factor on both the first and second courts. On the second, Montgomery won five of the last six matches on the second court, a clip that sits fourth-best in the conference, featuring a lone loss against now-No. 10 Arthur Rinderknech of Texas A&M. Montgomery has since returned to the first court, returning after a battle against No. 3 Nuno Borges to clinch Georgia’s victory against Auburn.

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