The seventh-ranked Georgia me and ton’s tennis team started off slow, but thanks to a strong showing from four underclassmen and senior Nick Wood, the Bulldogs bounced back in exciting fashion Friday night. A crowd of 1,681 spectators watched as Georgia scored a 5-2 victory against the 14th-ranked Florida Gators at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
After losing the doubles point and taking first-set losses on four of the six singles courts, the Bulldogs stormed back to win their 11th match in a row and improve to a perfect 9-0 in league play. Georgia can now clinch at least a share of the SEC regular season title, as well as the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament, with a win against Auburn on Sunday.
“I’m so proud of our team,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “For our guys to go out, regroup and fight the way that they did says a lot about them. I couldn’t be prouder. We certainly earned this one. Florida has a really great team, and for us to overcome them playing so well makes me exceptionally proud of our guys.”
It was a back-and-forth doubles point, where neither team broke serve until a 4-3 score on the second court. The Gators hung on at the No 2 position as the 58th-ranked team of Maxx Lipman and Eliott Orkin defeated Georgia’s Paul Oosterbaan and Jan Zielinski, 6-3.
The Bulldogs stormed back with a tiebreaker from Wayne Montgomery and Emil Reinberg, who took down Florida duo Alfredo Perez and Chase Perez-Blanco, 7-6 (4). It was not enough, however, as UF held on for a 7-5 victory at the top court.
Down 1-0, Georgia had work to do heading to the singles court — and it did not start out well for the Bulldogs. Georgia fell behind at nearly every position, except at the No. 3 and 6 positions. Wood cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against the Gators’ Joshua Wardell to even the match at 1-1, before Oosterbaan delivered a straight-set 6-4, 6-4 win over UF’s 33rd-ranked Orkin at the third court.
Florida then evened the score at 2-2 thanks to a win at the top singles spot.
With the match tied 2-2, it was time for the Bulldog freshmen to step up at courts four and five. Zielinski and Walker Duncan delivered in dramatic fashion as both fought back from first-set losses to claim victories. Duncan won his match, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, before Zielinski clinched with a thrilling 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win.
Montgomery then added to the Bulldogs’ total as he himself came fighting back for a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 triumph over 109th-ranked Alfredo Perez.
Georgia will now host Auburn on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET for a chance to claim a share of the its 30th SEC regular season title.
Tennis Match Results
Florida vs Georgia
April 8, 2016 at Athens, Ga.
(Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
#7 Georgia 5, #14 Florida 2
1. #17 Diego Hidalgo (FLA) def. #22 Austin Smith (UGA) 6-4, 6-4
2. #34 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. #109 Alfredo Perez (FLA) 2-6, 7-5, 6-3
3. Paul Oosterbaan (UGA) def. #33 Elliott Orkin (FLA) 6-4, 6-4
4. #111 Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Gordon Watson (FLA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
5. Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. #84 Chase Perez-Blanco (FLA) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
6. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Joshua Wardell (FLA) 6-2, 6-2
1. #3 Diego Hidalgo/Gordon Watson (FLA) def. #4 Austin Smith/Ben Wagland (UGA) 7-5
2. #58 Maxx Lipman/Elliott Orkin (FLA) def. Paul Oosterbaan/Jan Zielinski (UGA) 6-3
3. Emil Reinberg/Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. Alfredo Perez/Chase Perez-Blanco (FLA) 7-6 (0-4)
Florida 12-5, 7-2; National ranking #14
Georgia 15-3, 9-0; National ranking #7
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (6,3,1,4,5,2)
Official: Clark Weaver T-3:11 A-1681