In its first outdoor match of the 2021 season, the 12th-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team shut out Georgia Southern, 7-0, Wednesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 with the win and open SEC play on Friday against No. 3 Tennessee.
“More than anything, I thought it was about our guys coming out here and braving the elements,” head coach Manuel Diaz said of playing outdoors on a mid-50s afternoon. “Our early matches in the spring are going to be challenging because it’s cold, it’s a little bit breezy, and we are making the transition from indoor tennis to outdoor tennis, and that’s always a little bit of a challenge.
“Luckily, before all this rain hit this week, last week we had some good weather and were able to get outside and had a good number of practices outside.”
Doubles got off to a flying start with Georgia’s Trent Bryde and Blake Croyder teaming up at No. 1 to blank Georgia Southern’s Pascal Wagemaker and Alexandros Roumpis, 6-0. The Bulldogs then clinched the doubles point at No. 2, where Billy Rowe and Britton Johnston beat Tao Castillo and Murphy McCullough, 6-3.
Johnston kept the momentum rolling in singles, cruising to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Jonathan Morales at No. 6. Soon after, Bryde, ranked No. 9 in the ITA preseason singles rankings, took down Wagemaker, 6-2, 6-1, at the No. 1 spot.
“He won fast, he won decisively, he won with great tennis,” Diaz said of Johnston. “It wasn’t that his opponent wasn’t good, it’s that he played outstanding tennis.”
With Georgia up 3-0 in the team score, Croyder and Baptiste Anselmo both had quadruple match points in their respective matches at the same time, Croyder at No. 2 and Anselmo at No. 4. It was Croyder who got off the court first, beating McCullough 6-4, 6-1. Croyder actually dropped the first two games of the opening set before taking control of the match. He has now won 21 straight singles matches in dual-match play.
“I try and stray away from it,” Croyder said of the streak. “Manny’s told me plenty of times to stay focused on day-to-day stuff because, obviously, it won’t last forever. I’ve just got to do it day-by-day and hope I can keep it going as long as I can.”
Not long after Croyder’s win, Anselmo closed out Castillo, 6-4, 6-2. At No. 3 singles, Rowe defeated Valentin Dun, 6-2, 6-4, and Erik Grevelius completed the Georgia sweep with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win over Roumpis at the No. 5 spot. For Rowe and Grevelius, Wednesday’s wins were their sixth in a row, while Bryde extended his win streak to five straight matches.
This was Georgia’s first match since beating Georgia Tech on Feb. 5 — last Saturday’s match against UCF was postponed due to COVID-19 issues — so the chance to take the court and play outdoors before Tennessee comes to Athens on Friday (2 p.m.) was very important, Diaz said.
“We did everything but cross our fingers and do a little dance trying to get these matches played,” Diaz said. “Today was very important. We’ve got a great challenge against Tennessee on Friday — they’re now No. 3 in the country and they beat two top-five teams last weekend. They’re on a roll, they’re very deep and confident, and a very good team.”
Wednesday’s match was Georgia’s first against the Eagles since 1985, a year that ended with the Bulldogs winning the program’s first NCAA championship. Georgia is now 13-0 all-time against Georgia Southern, which fell to 2-2 this season with the loss.
For more information on the Bulldogs, go to Georgiadogs.com. You can also get updates on the team via Twitter (@UGATennis) and Instagram (@ugatennis).
No. 12 Georgia 7, Georgia Southern 0
1. Trent Bryde/Blake Croyder (UGA) def. Pascal Wagemaker/Alexandros Roumpis (GSU), 6-0
2. Billy Rowe/Britton Johnston (UGA) def. Tao Castillo/Murphy McCullough (GSU), 6-3
3. Baptiste Anselmo/Erik Grevelius (UGA) def. Valentin Dun/Carlos Garcia (GSU), 5-2 (unfinished)
1. Trent Bryde (UGA) def. Pascal Wagemaker (GSU), 6-2, 6-1
2. Blake Croyder (UGA) def. Murphy McCullough (GSU), 6-4, 6-1
3. Billy Rowe (UGA) def. Valentin Dun (GSU), 6-2, 6-4
4. Baptiste Anselmo (UGA) def. Tao Castillo (GSU), 6-4, 6-2
5. Erik Grevelius (UGA) vs Alexandros Roumpis (GSU), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
6. Britton Johnston (UGA) def. Jonathan Morales (GSU), 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish
Doubles: 1, 2
Singles: 6, 1, 2, 4, 3, 5