Congratulations to Georgia tennis coach Manuel Diaz, assistant Will Glenn and their players for winning another Southeastern Conference team title.
They have only one conference match left on the schedule – against strong Tennessee at home Saturday at 3:30 p.m. – and even if they lose, they will tie for the crown. The Bulldogs are undefeated and the Vols have one loss (at Mississippi State, while Georgia won in Starkville).
Through the years, the Red and Black netters have been Georgia’s winningest men’s athletic program: six NCAA team titles and 33 SEC crowns (26 in the regular season and seven conference tournaments).
Diaz himself was a star player on four straight SEC tournament winners (1972-75 under yours truly as coach). Diaz became head coach in 1989 and his teams have won 13 SEC titles and four NCAA tournaments.
The Bulldogs should be strong again next season, too. They lose only two players: seniors, No. 2 Javier Garrapiz and No. 4 Drake Bernstein, who also plays No. 3.
Three are juniors: No. 1 Wil Spencer, who transferred from Texas A&M; No. 6 Ignacio Taboada, who transferred from the University of Miami; and No. 3 Sadio Doumbia, who transferred from Auburn-Montgomery.
No. 6 is freshman Hernus Pieters of Pretoria, South Africa.
Assistant coach Glenn is a native Athenian and a graduate of Athens Academy. He was a four-year letterwinner at Georgia (1999-2000, 2002-03). He missed the 2001 season due to a knee injury. He was a member of the national championship teams in 1999 and 2001, co-captain in 2003.
Georgia will host the NCAA first and qualifying rounds May 13-14. The NCAA championships will be held May 19-30 at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
Georgia, incidentally, will host the NCAAs again in 2012.
Georgia has hosted it a record 26 times: 1972, 1977-89, 1991-93, 1995-96, 1998-99, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2010.
• Dan Magill is a contributing columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org