Georgia’s senior class made the most of Sunday’s Senior Day festivities as the UGA men’s tennis team won their fourth straight SEC Championship, defeating Auburn 4-0 in Athens at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. They become just the third group in the Bulldogs’ storied history to win four-straight SEC Championships.
With Sunday’s victory, Georgia (16-3, 10-0 SEC) earns at least a share of its 30th overall SEC regular season title and has won either the regular season or conference tournament championship 39 times in school history. The Bulldogs also clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the 2016 SEC Tournament.
Seniors Austin Smith, Ben Wagland and Nick Wood, who played in their final regular season home matches, have been a part of four-straight titles, joining the 1971 and 1972 senior classes as the only players to accomplish that feat.
“I’m really proud of our seniors for leading this team all year long,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “They’ve come a long way and really increased their presence in the locker room this year. They have done a tremendous job, and the leadership that we have had from all three of them has been great. With three freshmen on our team, it has made a huge difference having those guys leading the way.”
Paul Oosterbaan and Jan Zielinski rolled to a 6-1 win at the No. 2 doubles court, before teammates and the fourth-ranked duo of Smith and Wagland clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 victory at the No. 1 position.
Up 1-0, Georgia was forced to a tiebreaker set on three of the six singles courts. Smith started UGA’s impressive showing in singles as he stormed past Auburn’s 88th-ranked Marko Krickovic, 6-3, 6-4 to win his eighth league match of the season and put the Bulldogs up 2-0.
“It was a great way to end a fun four years playing here at home,” Smith said. “We still have work that needs to be done this year, but it’s been awesome. We have great fans, and I couldn’t ask for better coaches or a better team. It was truly a dream come true.”
With the seniors honored before Sunday’s contest, it was the freshmen who delivered the clincher for the Bulldogs, as Walker Duncan picked up a 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 3, before Reinberg clinched with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
The Bulldogs can now clinch the SEC title outright with a win next week. Georgia heads to Arkansas on Friday, before battling Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., on Sunday.
TENNIS MATCH RESULTS
#7 Georgia defeats #59 Auburn (4-0)
April 10, 2016 at Athens, Ga.
(Dan Magill Tennis Complex)
Official: Clark Weaver
Order of finish:
1. #22 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #88 Marko Krickovic (AU) 6-3, 6-4
2. #34 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) vs. Max Hinnisdaels (AU) 7-6 (8-6), 2-3, unfinished
3. #111 Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Conner Huertas (AU) 6-4, 6-3
4. Jan Zielinski (UGA) vs. Dante Saleh (AU) 6-7 (4-7), 5-3, unfinished
5. Nick Wood (UGA) vs. Brandon Laubser (AU) 7-6 (7-3), 3-1, unfinished
6. Emil Reinberg (UGA) def. Edward Nguyen (AU) 6-4, 6-2
1. #4 Austin Smith/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. Marko Krickovic/Max Hinnisdaels (AU) 6-4
2. Paul Oosterbaan/Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. Olle Thestrup/Brandon Laubser (AU) 6-1
3. Wayne Montgomery/Emil Reinberg (UGA) vs. Conner Huertas/Dante Saleh (AU) 4-5, unfinished