WTennis: Georgia vs. Michigan Super Regional Saturday in Athens

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WTennis: Georgia vs. Michigan Super Regional Saturday in Athens

Jeff Wallace
Jeff Wallace

The top-seeded Georgia women’s tennis team continues its play in the 2019 NCAA Team Championships Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in one of eight Super Regionals across the country.

The Bulldogs (25-1) play host to the Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines (20-5) Saturday at 2 p.m. The winners of the eight Super Regional sites advance to Orlando, Fla., for the final three rounds plus the NCAA Individual Championships. Prior to this season, the Round of 16 was played out at the final one-site location, but the new Super Regional layout allows for one more home match for the higher seeds.

Last weekend, Georgia blanked Alabama State and No. 22-ranked Wake Forest to reach its ninth-straight Round of 16. In Ann Arbor, The Wolverines swept Illinois-Chicago and Kentucky to earn their fourth trip to the Round of 16 in five years.

The last meeting between the two schools was the 2015 NCAA Round of 16 in which the Bulldogs prevailed 4-2 and finished as a NCAA semifinalist. In the five all-time matchups between the Bulldogs and the Wolverines, Georgia is 5-0.

“As it was an honor to host the first two rounds of the tournament, it is an even greatly privilege to host this new Super Regional in front of our home fans this weekend,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “We’ve had a great week of practice, working on things, finishing school strong, and resting. Michigan is a good team top to bottom; they have good doubles, and are well coached. Like all the other teams in the Round of 16, they have a very good program and all these matches will be super exciting. We are hoping that we get a ton of fans out here for support like we have had all season.”

Katarina Jokic
Katarina Jokic

Georgia aims to make its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Round of Eight, while Michigan looks to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2016.

Saturday’s match features a ranked doubles battle on court one and four ranked singles matchups. The most prominent clash will be on court one between Georgia’s No. 2-ranked Katarina Jokic versus Michigan’s No. 3 Kate Fahey. In November, the two faced off in the Oracle/ITA National Fall singles Championship with Jokic winning to become Georgia’s 11th individual national champion. Over on court three, freshman Bulldog Lourdes Carle, ranked No. 69 in ITA singles, tangles with Wolverine senior Brienne Minor who won the NCAA Singles Championship two seasons ago in Athens.

Georgia NCAA Tournament Notebook

Dawgs in the NCAA Tournament

Record: 81-30; 2 Titles (1994, 2000); 33-straight appearances dating back to 1987

No. 1 Seeds: Georgia grabbed the true No. 1 seed for the second time (2014) since the field expanded from 16 to 64 teams (1999). The Bulldogs’ last national title came in 2000 when Georgia was grouped in the top-four seedings with no true top spot.

Round of 16: Since 1999, Georgia has now reached 19 of the 21 possible Round of 16 trips. This year’s appearance to the now-named “Super Regional” marks the Bulldogs’ ninth-straight Round of 16. Georgia is 15-3 all time in the Round of 16. Last season, Georgia defeated South Carolina to advance to the Round

Scouting the Wolverines

• Michigan (20-5, 11-0 Big Ten) won its regular season conference title outright, marking its ninth championship in history and eighth in the past 10 years. It also was their seventh unbeaten Big 10 season and second-straight B-10 Tourney title.

• The Michigan roster is balanced with five upper classmen (four in starting singles lineup) and four underclassmen.

• The NCAA appearance is the 18th all-time for U-M, and the eighth in the past 10 years. U-M swept Illinois-Chicago in the first round and blanked No. 29 Kentucky in the second round.

• U-M’s No. 1 singles player, Kate Fahey, owns the school’s record for all-time singles wins at 131, and is one short of tying the single-season record as she sits at 37-5. Fahey, a senior, is ranked No. 3 in ITA singles.

• In doubles, Michigan has taken the point in 18-of-25 dual matches, and holds a 38-21 record individually.

Lourdes Carle
Lourdes Carle

First Round Recap

After defeating Alabama State and Wake Forest last weekend, Georgia is now 36-2 in the first two rounds since the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships expanded to 64 teams in 1999. This marks the ninth-straight time Georgia played host to the first two rounds and 18th time overall. When playing in Athens, the Bulldogs are 36-0 in the first two rounds.

The Doubles Factor

Through 26 dual matches, Georgia is 21-for-25 in obtaining the doubles point (doubles bypassed in NC State match). The Bulldogs are 45-18 (12 unf.) in individual doubles dual matches. After dropping three doubles points at the ITA Indoors, the Bulldogs switched up the lineup, which resulted in taking 18-of-19 points. Currently, Georgia is on a streak of 13 matches of successful doubles points.

Last season, Georgia took 19-of-25 doubles points, going 38-16. Georgia was one of four schools (North Carolina, Duke, Stanford) to have two doubles teams inside the top-30 in the final ITA rankings.

’The PIT’ Getting it Done

As far back as the 1980’s or beyond, courts four, five and six of the Henry Feild Stadium have been named “The Pit”. The idea is to highlight the tough mentality of players that occupy those courts, the less attention compared to the players that roam the upper courts. This doesn’t matter, because “The Pit” is all business and the points count the same. There is a new plaque leading down to court four that is titled “The Pit”.

The women’s team is defining the term to a ‘T”. Through 26 dual matches this spring, the Bulldogs in “The Pit” are 54-4 with 15 clinchers and 17 unfinished matches – all of which were led or tied by Georgia at the stoppage. Sophomore Vivian Wolff on court four is 22-1 with four clinches and two top-20 wins. Junior Elena Christofi on court five is 14-2 with two ranked wins and two clinches. On court six, freshman Meg Kowalski is 18-1 with nine clinches, and two ranked wins.

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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.