Georgia received several bits of good tidings when the NCAA announced its men’s and women’s tennis tournament fields on Monday.
The biggest news was that the Bulldogs would not have to leave town the rest of the season.
Georgia will host both men’s and women’s NCAA tennis regionals next week at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Georgia men are seeded No. 2 in the nation and the Georgia women are seeded No. 6. Georgia had already been named the host for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s National Championships on May 17-22.
“This feels good to be No. 2; that means there’s only one team ahead of us,” Georgia senior Wil Spencer said. “It’s a tough draw, it’s always going to be a tough draw in the NCAAs. But that’s what we want, a tough draw. It makes you better.”
Georgia’s men (23-2) will play South Carolina State (17-2) at noon on May 12. Florida State (18-9) will meet Boise State (26-6) in the other half of the draw at 9 a.m. The regional semifinal winners will meet for the championship at 2 p.m. on May 13.
Georgia rides the momentum of winning the Southeastern Conference championship last week, which probably factored heavily in the Bulldogs’ No. 2 national seeding behind Southern Cal.
“We’ve had a week off already and it’s going to be another week before we play again,” Georgia men’s coach Manuel Diaz said. “I would have liked to have played four days after the SEC tournament. But that’s the way it goes. We’re still continuing to talk about lessons learned and what we created to have that run we had in the SEC tournament. We have that momentum and that sense of confidence, and hopefully we’ll continue to catch on it as we move forward in the tournament.”
South Carolina State won the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Championship to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point and the seeding doesn’t add any pressure to us,” Spencer said. “We’re going to do the same things that have gotten us to this point. I think the No. 1 (USC) has the target on their backs because they’re a higher seed than us and that’s what we want.”
Georgia’s women (21-4) will kick off the busy weekend of tennis in Athens on May 11 when they host College of Charleston (25-5), Arizona State (11-9) and Clemson (15-9) in a regional. Arizona State and Clemson will meet at 10 a.m. on May 11. Georgia will play College of Charleston immediately afterward at 1 p.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The regional semifinals winners will meet for a bid to nationals at 3 p.m. on May 12. The women’s final will be held following the men’s semifinal rounds.
“It’s really awesome to know that we are here and at home and there’s not another road trip left,” Georgia sophomore Kate Fuller said. “We’re going in kind of similar to what we expected. Clemson is in our side of the bracket which is kind of cool because we played them in national indoors. But I know both teams have improved a lot but we’re going to have to get through Charleston first.”
Georgia defeated Clemson 7-0 in February. College of Charleston earned an automatic bid as the Southern Conference champion.
“I think our team’s playing well,” Georgia women’s coach Jeff Wallace said. “I think we’ve worked hard. They’re excited with what’s about to happen. But we just have to take it one step at a time. We still need more practices and we still need to work on some things. The regional is going to be here before you know it. But it’s an exciting time for us.”
Georgia comes off of finishing second at the SEC Championships last week and lost 4-1 to Florida which enters NCAA regionals as the No. 2 national seed behind UCLA.
“Making the finals of SECs is big for us,” Fuller said. “We beat Alabama . Even though we lost to Florida in the final, they were tight matches but I think the courts there really favored Florida . But everybody was battling and playing really tight matches so that gives us confidence that if we face them again, it will be on our courts and that should favor us. But we’ve got to take care of business in regionals first before we worry about what’s down the road.”
Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students and will go on sale on Wednesday. The seedings for the NCAA individual national championships will be released on Wednesday.
NCAA Tennis Regionals
At the Dan Magill Tennis Complex
10 a.m.: Arizona State women vs. Clemson women.
Noon: Georgia women vs. College of Charleston women
9 a.m.: Boise State men vs. Florida State men.
Noon: Georgia men vs. South Carolina State men.
3 p.m.: Women’s semifinal winners.
May 13: Men’s semifinal winners.