The Georgia men’s tennis team kicked off the 53rd annual Southern Intercollegiate Championships on Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex with a strong showing against Ole Miss. After taking two of the three doubles matches in the reformatted event for 2020, the Bulldogs won five of seven singles matches on Day 1.
The “Southern Collegiates,” as Coach Magill, the event’s founder, referred to it, typically features several draws of singles and doubles, with a multitude of teams from around the Southeast and beyond in the field. This year’s event was altered because of the coronavirus pandemic and limited to a four-team field of SEC squads: Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn.
“It was appropriate that we continue it,” Georgia coach Manuel Diaz said of the event that began in 1968, “and while it looks a little bit different it certainly feels like we’re doing history its justice.”
Against the Rebels, Georgia got straight-set singles wins from Philip Henning, Blake Croyder and Erik Grevelius, and a three-set win from Billy Rowe. Henning, Croyder and Grevelius, playing on courts 1-3, respectively, all wrapped up within about two minutes of one another.
Grevelius finished first, beating Jan Soren Hain, 6-2, 6-1. A minute later, Croyder closed out Simon Junk, 6-3, 6-1, followed seconds later by Henning finishing off 6-2, 6-3 win over Sandkaulen. A little later, Bill Rowe won on court 4, rallyied past Brady Draheim, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“I feel like we’ve been working really hard the last two weeks (of practice), and playing at home feels like an advantage,” Grevelius said. “Even though it’s not as many as usual, we had some people here supporting us, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The Bulldogs played Friday without their two 2020 All-Americans, Trent Bryde and Tyler Zink, who played this week at a Futures event in Fayetteville, Ark. Diaz said Bryde and Zink may be available at some point over the weekend.
On court 6, Georgia’s Britton Johnston wasn’t playing an Ole Miss opponent — he was facing Florida’s Blaise Bicknell. Ole Miss didn’t have its full slate of players available so the Gators added one of theirs. Bicknell won a tight match, 6-4, 7-6 (5), and Ole Miss’ Cotter Wilson beat Baptiste Anselmo in three sets on court 5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Georgia took two of the three doubles matches to start, first picking up a win on court 3, where Anselmo and Johnston teamed up to beat the hybrid duo of Ole Miss’ Junk and Florida’s Brian Berdusco, 8-6. The Bulldogs also got a win on court 2, with Grevelius and Rowe sweeping through the tiebreaker at 7-all to beat Sandkaulen and Wilson, 8-7 (0). Ole Miss’ team of Draheim and Hain edged Georgia’s Croyder and Henning, 8-7 (4), on court 1.
Georgia freshman Niklas Von Hellens found himself playing not an Ole Miss opponent but Auburn’s Diego Chavarria. The Gators had to pull a player out of their original singles slate and Von Hellens was fill in at the last minute. He made the most of the opportunity, splitting sets, 6-3, 3-6, and then winning a tiebreaker, 15-13.