ATHENS, Ga. – Off to the state of Mississippi, the seventh-ranked Georgia women’s tennis team concludes the road portion of its 2018 regular season schedule against No. 9 Ole Miss in Oxford Thursday at 5 p.m., before heading to Starkville to play No. 32 Mississippi State Saturday at 2 p.m.
With only two weekends left in Southeastern Conference play, each match is critical in Georgia’s stance in the conference standings. Currently, the Bulldogs reside in the fourth position at 7-2, trailing Vanderbilt (8-1), Florida (9-1) and South Carolina (10-0). The top three teams have yet to play each other, while Georgia holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Florida.
Last weekend at home, Georgia blanked Alabama, 4-0, for the seventh shutout of the year, and then the Bulldogs handled No. 15 Auburn, 4-1 to record the team’s fifth win against top-25 ranked opponents. Georgia continued its dominant doubles play, taking each of the points this weekend. Among the 16 dual matches this season, the Bulldogs have earned all but two doubles points.
“We are kind of winding down in the SECs with four more matches left so this is a big weekend on the road,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “The SEC tournament is on the road and the NCAA Tournament is on the road, so we have to learn and do a great job of playing tennis on the road. We’ve had some good matches on the road already, so hopefully, we can continue the success.”
Highlighting the weekend slate is Thursday’s battle against the Rebels (15-5, 6-4 SEC), which will mark Georgia’s 10th opponent ranked in the top-25 this season. Riding a four-match win streak on the road, Ole Miss looks to continue its resurgent season at home. The Rebels’ six SEC wins are three more than last year, which is the highest mark in the program since 2014.
Mississippi State (14-7, 5-5 SEC) starts its weekend against No. 31 Tennessee, prior to the Saturday matinée versus the Athens’ Bulldogs. In MSU’s last home series, the Bulldogs knocked off No. 2 Vanderbilt, 4-3, marking the highest-ranked win in school history including the men’s tennis program.
“We’ve talked a lot about peaking at the right time, growing as a team and learning from all of our experiences,” Wallace added. “I think this team has done a really good job at that. We just need to get injury free and stay injury free and hopefully the experience we’ve had through the year will pay off in the post season.”
For the latest on Georgia women’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter (@UGAWomensTennis), Instagram (@ugawomenstennis) and on Facebook (UGA Women’s Tennis).
Inside the Series
Overall | Georgia leads, 39-8
First Meeting | 1982
Last OM win | 2010
Streak | UGA 8 wins in a row
Last Match | A three-setter by Shaffer clinched No. 3 Georgia’s win, 4-2, despite the late OM push
Overall | Georgia leads, 40-0
First Meeting | 1981
Last MSU win | N/A
Streak | UGA 40 wins in a row
Last Match | Singles wins by Gould-Shaffer-Christofi combined to finish the 4-0 sweep
Leading Ole Miss is senior Arianne Hartono, a 2017 All-SEC First Team recipient, who leads the conference in overall dual wins (15-2) and SEC dual wins (8-2) on court one. Hartono, ranked 15th in ITA singles, is followed in the lineup by freshman Sabina Machalova (#87) and junior Tea Jandric (#108). In doubles, Hartono pairs with Alexas Bortles to form SEC’s top-ranked duo at No. 6.
Other Bulldogs Scout
Mississippi State also returns to its home courts after a four-match road trip, in which the Bulldogs went 2-2. The Bulldogs do not have a ranked singles player, but showcase four upperclassman in the lineup with a bottom half that all sport winning records. In doubles, seniors Madison Harrison and Khrystyna Vozniak rank 87th.
Last season in the Mississippi series, Elena Christofi clinched each doubles point, as well as the match clinching singles win against State, earning her second SEC Freshman of the Week honors. This past weekend senior Mariana Gould went 2-0 in singles and doubles. She holds a team-best 7-1 conference record in singles play. Elena Christofi and Morgan Coppoc defeated their ninth ranked opponent last week to remain a perfect 4-0 in SEC action. In singles, Coppoc earned her first-career match clincher vs. Auburn also keeping her conference record intact at 4-0.
Closer Look at Doubles
The Bulldogs have lost just six individual dual doubles matches (29-6 with 13 unfinished). Georgia is the only Southeastern Conference affiliate that has two doubles teams ranked in ITA’s top-20. Nationally, Duke, UCLA and UNC join the Bulldogs in this distinction.
Wallace Gets #707
Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace picked up career win No. 707 against Alabama, passing his mentor and former coach, legendary Georgia men’s tennis coach Dan Magill, in all-time wins. Wallace capped his playing career in 1984 under Magill after winning the SEC singles title at the No. 6 spot.