During the Georgia-LSU tennis match here last Saturday, I was sitting with two former Bulldogs – Dr. Tom von Dohlen (1975-77) of Caldwell, W.Va., and Gil Gainer (1975-78) of Conyers – watching the No. 4 singles match between Georgia’s Drake Bernstein and LSU’s Mark Boutwell.
Bernstein had lost the first set and was down 4-3 in the second.
Georgia was ahead 5-0 in the match, and von Dohlen commented: "It looks like we might lose a match after all."
I immediately said: "I wouldn’t bet on it. Bernstein is one of the best three-set players I have ever seen. He’s won his last three matches after losing the first set."
Bernstein had previously defeated Kentucky’s Alberto Gonzalez 6-3, 6-7(5-7), 6-3; Georgia Tech’s Kevin King 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and East Tennessee State’s Grega Teraz 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 this season.
Bernstein proved me right again against the Tigers with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
Georgia coach Manuel Diaz has known Bernstein since the senior was a 12-year-old taking tennis lessons from former Georgia All-American Wade McGuire, who was doing postgraduate work at UGA in 2003.
Bernstein was born in Charleston, S.C., and later moved to nearby Winder. He was the top-ranked junior in the South in 2007.
As a freshman in 2008, he was a member of the Georgia NCAA championship team, playing as a substitute at the No. 6 singles spot.
He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. Many times when I am at my office adjacent to the UGA tennis courts, I hear a boy hitting tennis balls in the morning. It’s Bernstein with a basket of tennis balls, practicing his strokes.
Incidentally, he is dating the beautiful Cassidy McComb, the top gymnast in the SEC. He scored a "10" with her.
In Georgia’s 4-3 win over Louisville on Wednesday, guess who won the last and decisive match?
None other than Drake Bernstein: 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 over Robert Hall.
• Dan Magill is a contributing columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald. E-mail: email@example.com.