MTennis: UGA Will Begin NCAA Play in Chapel Hill

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MTennis: UGA Will Begin NCAA Play in Chapel Hill

Manuel Diaz
Manuel Diaz

The University of Georgia men’s tennis team makes the drive to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week to begin play in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. 

Georgia, which is ranked No. 18 nationally and the No. 2 seed in Chapel Hill, takes on the three-seed Elon Phoenix. The Bulldogs and Phoenix square off at 1 p.m. ET Friday at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. 

The two teams are battling to see who will advance to Saturday’s second-round matchup against either No. 10-ranked North Carolina or Navy. Saturday’s match time is slated for 4 p.m. ET. 

Georgia NCAA Tournament Notebook

Scouting the Opponent

»  Elon is riding a 10-match win streak. At 21-4 overall this season, the Phoenix is making just its third all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament after matching its second-best single-season win total under head coach Michael Leonard. The Phoenix is led by Felipe Sarrasague, who is ranked No. 102 nationally with a 15-5 singles record to go with 14 doubles wins. 

Elon joined NCAA Division I in 2010. Georgia and the Phoenix will be meeting on the tennis courts for the first time when the two squads clash on Friday. 

Emil Reinberg (L) and Walker Duncan
Emil Reinberg (L) and Walker Duncan

Georgia’s NCAA Streak Among Nation’s Best

»  Georgia has appeared in 36-straight NCAA tournaments — a total that is second nationally among collegiate tennis programs. The Bulldogs trail only UCLA, which has appeared in 43 consecutive NCAAs. Behind the Bulldogs, Florida has appeared in 29-straight tournaments, Texas in 28 and Ole Miss in 26. 

Bulldogs Make 41st NCAA Appearance

»  Georgia has a long and impressive history in the NCAA tournament. In 41 total appearances, the team has won six NCAA National Championships (1985, 1987, 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2008), while a Bulldog has won the NCAA singles title four times (Mikael Pernfors in 1984 and 1985; Matias Boeker in 2001 and 2002). The Bulldogs have claimed the doubles crown on three occasions – Ola Malmqvist and Allen Miller in 1983, Boeker and Travis Parrott, and John Isner and Antonio Ruiz in 2005.

Diaz One Win Away from 700

»  Bulldog head coach Manuel Diaz enters the 2019 NCAA Tournament needing just one win to reach the 700-victory mark for his 31-year head-coaching career. Diaz is just short of Dan Magill, who recorded a SEC-record 706 career victories. 

Under Diaz, the Bulldogs have won 28 SEC titles (18 regular season and 10 tournament) in his 31 years at the helm. He has also reached the NCAA quarterfinals or better in 25 of those 31 seasons and made the NCAA semifinals round on 18 occasions. 

The three-time National Coach of the Year has also won six national titles, while his teams have finished ranked in the final ITA top-5 a total of 20 times and in the top-10 26 times.

Trio of Bulldogs Earn All-SEC Honors

»  Three Georgia men’s tennis players — Emil Reinberg, Jan Zielinski and Philip Henning — were recognized by league coaches in the annual All-Southeastern Conference postseason awards. 

Reinberg and Zielinski earned first-team All-SEC honors, while Henning placed on the conference’s All-Freshman Team. 

Zielinski has now garnered All-SEC accolades in each of the past three seasons. It marks the second time in four years Reinberg has made the All-SEC squad. 

Jan Zielinski
Jan Zielinski

Loeb, Reinberg, Zielinski Receive At-Large Bids

»  A trio of University of Georgia men’s tennis student-athletes — Robert Loeb, Emil Reinberg and Jan Zielinski — received at-large bids to this year’s NCAA singles and doubles championships. 

Reinberg and Zeilinski were selected for singles competition, while Georgia’s top tandem of Loeb and Zielinski was picked for the 32-team doubles bracket.  Singles and doubles play will be conducted on May 20-25 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, following the conclusion of the team championship. 

Playing the Best

»  The Bulldogs have played three of the top-5 and six of the top-12 teams in the latest ITA rankings. Seven of Georgia’s 10 losses this season have come against teams ranked 12th or higher. 

Fabulous Freshmen

» A trio of freshmen — Trent Bryde, Blake Croyder and Philip Henning — have each seen time in the lineup and have made an impact for the Bulldogs. Henning earned his second SEC Freshman of the Week honor after he went 3-1 in singles and doubles play in the final week of the regular season. Croyder earned SEC Freshman of the Week on March 31 and owns a perfect 3-0 record against conference opponents this season. 

Duncan On Fire

» Bulldog senior Walker Duncan has won seven singles matches in a row and owns a 7-1 record in his last eight matches. The Atlanta native led the Bulldogs against SEC competition with a team-best 8-3 record against league opponents. 

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.