Singles wins from a trio of freshmen lifted the University of Georgia men’s tennis team to a 4-0 victory against Elon and into the NCAA second round at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.
It also marks win No. 700 of Manuel Diaz’s 31-year head coaching career that began during the 1988-89 campaign. The Bulldog head man owns a 700-169 overall record — an 80-percent win percentage and average of 23 victories per year. He trails legendary head coach Dan Magill, who totaled a SEC-record 706 career wins.
The Bulldogs (14-10) advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament and will play the winner of the North Carolina versus Navy contest at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
“Win No. 700 comes in second to the fact that we are here trying to advance in the NCAA tournament,” Diaz said. “This is all about the kids, but 700 for me is a credit to the many people I owe a great deal. There are a lot of players who earned their stripes here at the University of Georgia and played hard for me, Coach Magill and this program. That is something I went through and take a great deal of pride in.”
The freshman duo of Trent Bryde and Philip Henning improved their overall record to 8-3 this season with a dominating 6-3 victory to lead things off for the Bulldogs in doubles.
Georgia held sizable leads at courts one and two, with 4-1 advantages at each spot. Elon made a run, but Georgia’s tandem of Alex Diaz and Robert Loeb held on for the 5-3 triumph at No. 2. That victory gave Diaz and Loeb their fifth-straight win of the season.
In singles, Georgia’s freshman class delivered. After the Bulldogs won first sets at five of the six courts, Georgia’s rookie class of Bryde, Henning and Croyder went to work.
It started with Henning at court No. 4, where he won a 6-1, 6-1 contest against Kyle Frankel. Following a back-and-forth first set, Bryde won with ease in the second to take a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
Croyder, who has not lost a match since Feb. 10, improved his win streak to seven matches and clinched Friday’s contest with a 6-4, 6-3 victory at court No. 6.
“I am excited about these freshmen, who played like veterans today,” Diaz said. “They played with aggression and with confidence. They were up to the challenge. Our seniors have done a tremendous job this year just showing them the way, and this is a great feeling for them to set the tempo in a NCAA tournament match.”
Georgia will play either North Carolina or Navy on Saturday. The winner of that contest will advance to the NCAA Super Regional, which is next Saturday, May 11 at one of eight host sites.