Georgia is the last Southeastern Conference men’s tennis team standing in the NCAA championships.
Georgia's Sadio Doumbia stretches to keep the ball in play during doubles matches against the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Team Championships on Friday, May 18, 2012 in Athens, Ga.
The second-seeded Bulldogs rolled over 15th-seeded North Carolina 4-0 Friday night to reach the quarterfinals after Kentucky, Florida and Ole Miss were bounced earlier in the day in round of 16 action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
“I expected to have some company from the SEC,” Georgiacoach Manuel Diaz said. “I think we’re playing probably some of the best tennis we have all year. It’s too bad that we’re the only SEC school. We take pride in being a top program in our conference, and we just got to keep going, carry our banner high.”
The Bulldogs (26-2) advanced to the quarterfinals round for the eighth straight season. Georgia, the SEC tournament champions this year, has reached the semifinals the past two seasons.
“I thought we played a great match,” said Diaz, whose team did not lose a set. “From start to finish, I thought our guys were very strong and composed and were having fun. That’s an impressive start for us.”
Georgia will play seventh-seeded Pepperdine at 4 p.m. Sunday. Georgia’s assistants had a chance to scout what remained of the Waves’ 4-1 victory against Tulsa on the McWhorter courts after the Bulldogs advanced.
North Carolina (15-8) was playing in its first round of 16 match since 2008.
Playing before a crowd of 2,304 on its home court, Georgia wore all black and put on a show.
“It felt really electric,” said freshman Nathan Pasha, who clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-2 win on court five.
After losing the doubles point in its second-round match against Florida State, Georgia grabbed the early advantage this time despite falling behind on court one.
KU Singh and Wil Spencer won 8-4 on court 3 against Esben Hess Olesen and Oystein Steiro and Pasha and Ignacio Taboada defeated Cameron Ahari and Brennan Boyajian 8-5 on court 2. Georgia’s Sadio Doumbia and Hernus Pieters were trailing 7-4 on court 1.
Georgia won the first set of singles on every court after Taboada won a tiebreaker on court four.
Pieters made it 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Steiro from Norway6-3, 6-1 on court six. It was Pieters’ 12th singles win in a row.
Singh, the transfer from Illinois, won 6-3, 6-1 on court two against Boyajian and Pasha, a freshman from Atlanta, finished off the match against William Paker on court five.
“We played a really tough schedule this year, and they put it to us,”North Carolinacoach Sam Paul said. “They played a great match.”
The teams had played 17 times previously—including the previous two seasons in the ITA Indoors with Georgia winning both—but this was the first postseason meeting ever between the programs.
Sixth-seeded Kentucky’s 4-1 loss to 11th-seeded Stanford was the only upset among the SEC teams. The matched ended whenKentucky’s No. 4 singles player Tom Jomby defaulted while trailing 6-1, 3-6, 5-4 to John Morrisey. The chair umpire ruled Jomby intentionally hit the ball at the umpire. Since he had already been assessed a point and game penalty earlier, the match was over by default.
“It’s unfortunate it ends that way where the official can determine the outcome of the match,” Kentucky coach Dennis Emery said. “It’s pretty simple, you don’t do that. He already had a code violation.”
Florida, the No. 12 seed, dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 5 Ohio State. Fourth-seed UCLA beat No. 13 Ole Miss 4-1.
Georgia,Tennessee and Kentucky all reached the quarterfinals last year. This is the first year since 2007 that the SEC didn’t have at least two teams get past the round of 16.
“We’re onto the next round,” Diaz said.