Three singles matches went unfinished in Georgia’s loss to Florida in the conference tournament title match on Sunday.
But assistant coach Drake Bernstein tried to make sure some kind of race was completed that day.
It just so happened the race took place in a restaurant parking lot in Starkville, Miss. — not on a tennis court.
“Drake likes to talk a big game. He challenged me to a race, saying that I couldn’t beat him,” said sophomore Lauren Herring, who plays No. 1 singles. “Obviously, I can.”
Bernstein, who was a member of the Georgia men’s tennis team that won the 2008 national title, had one condition: the race had to be a sprint.
“He didn’t want conditioning to be a factor. That is his (direct) quote,” Herring said with a laugh.
Herring, Bernstein, junior Kate Fuller and senior Kelli Jordan lined up for the 20-yard dash. Michael Terry, a graduate assistant for Georgia’s communications department, had his iPhone prepared to video the race.
“Drake was trying to go so fast to beat us and three steps in, he just ate it hard,” Fuller said. “Tripped and fell. Bloody hands, scraped up knee, the whole deal.”
With the whole team laughing in the parking lot, overjoyed the moment was captured on video, Herring basked in her victory.
“Obviously, I’m out of the blocks fast,” Herring said. “Drake just said his feet were too fast to keep up with the rest of him.”
The team loaded back onto the bus to head home and Bernstein got a hold of Terry’s phone.
His first move? Delete the embarrassing evidence.
“It was gonna go on every social media site,” Herring said.
Herring said a plan is in the works to try and recover the deleted video, but it’s not promising.
The Bulldogs have other things to focus on anyhow.
They fell short of the conference tournament title and finished the season at 21-3. The NCAA tournament begins May 10, and there are many 6 a.m. team runs, afternoon practices and weight-lifting sessions between now and then.
“These next couple weeks are gonna be real tough for us,” Herring said. “I think physically, the coaches are gonna demand a lot from us because we do have some time off where we’re not playing matches, so we can get a little bruised in practice and it doesn’t really matter so much.”
Georgia, who will learn its NCAA tournament seeding on April 30, will likely host its first and second round matches, something Herring and coach Jeff Wallace said would be comforting and advantageous.
“I think it’s an important time to get the team to realize that this is what it’s all about,” Wallace said. “It starts with the team and understanding everybody’s role, but these guys have done a nice job of that this year and so I suspect they’re gonna really finish strong.”