ATHENS, Ga. – Primed for its toughest two-match home series to date, the eighth-ranked Georgia women’s tennis team plays the defending national champion Florida Gators on Friday at 5 p.m. and will conclude the weekend with a Sunday matinée at 1 p.m. against the 10th-ranked South Carolina at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Bulldogs (8-2, 3-0 SEC) opened their home SEC slate with a shutout over Tennessee last weekend, marking Georgia’s first 7-0 conference win since 2015. Both the No. 18-ranked Gators (9-4) and the Gamecocks (12-3) are riding win streaks of six and seven, respectively, and are each 4-0 in the conference. At No. 10, this South Carolina team is the highest-ranked squad Georgia has ever faced in the series that dates back to 1974.
Not flinching at the matches ahead, Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said, “Every weekend when playing in the SEC, you are going to get challenged. It is going to be great tennis and high level teams. We are really not looking at this weekend too much different than last or next. They are all big. We are just looking forward to more challenges and it is always good to be here at home. Hopefully, we will get some nice crowds.”
The Florida match brings back fresh memories for most involved in each program as Georgia upset the top-ranked Gators in Gainesville last year, halting a 163 home match win streak – a NCAA all-sport record. Current senior Mariana Gould clinched the win on court No. 6 against Florida’s now volunteer coach Kourtney Keegan. Two days later, Georgia took the doubles point and finished 1-2-3 on the singles court to defeat South Carolina 4-0 in Columbia.
This week served as spring break on the Georgia campus, giving the Bulldogs ample time to prepare accordingly.
“We certainly had a little bit more time on our hands and have been able to practice when we felt like it was best,” Wallace added. “The weather has kind of been chilly and we’ve had some wind, but in a way that can be good, because it prepares us for matches that might not be ideal conditions.”
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 | Florida leads, 49-16
First Meeting | 1977
Last UF win | 2017
Streak | UGA 1 win in a row
Shutouts | UGA (0), UF (9)
Last Match | On court 6, Gould sealed the Georgia upset, 4-1
Overall | Georgia leads, 46-15
First Meeting | 1974
Last SC win | 2010
Streak | UGA 8 wins in a row
Shutouts | UGA (15), SC (1)
Last Match | Georgia went 1-2-3 on the singles court to win 4-0
Florida, the defending NCAA Champion, has lost four matches this season, its most in a season since the 2015 squad finished 24-4. The losses are nothing to take lightly as all have been against currently ranked top-25 opponents including now No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 6 Georgia Tech at the National Team Indoors. Since the loss to GT, the Gators have rallied off six straight, four of which within the conference.
Currently the Gators are traveling just six players, an even split between seniors and freshmen. The seniors (Anna Danilina, Peggy Porter and Josie Kuhlman) are a collective 7-1 in conference singles play.
Similar to Florida, South Carolina has not lost since the National Team Indoors, which amounts to seven straight matches including four conference opponents. All three of the Gamecocks’ losses are also against currently ranked top-25 teams (Duke – 3; UCLA – 15, UCF – 24). South Carolina plays No. 30 Tennessee on Friday prior to heading to Athens.
The Gamecocks have yet to drop a doubles point in conference play or even lose one individual doubles match. In singles, senior Hadley Berg and junior Rachel Rohrabacher are each 3-0 in SEC play. Berg and junior Paige Cline have earned back-to-back SEC Player of the Week honors.
Freshman Vivian Wolff has been inserted into the lineup in the last three matches, going 2-0 with one unfinished.Mariana Gould and Katarina Jokic are each on a seven-match singles win streak. Three matches into the spring’s dual season, sophomore Marta Gonzalez tied her freshman total in wins at 19.