UGA’s tennis teams earn berths in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships

Georgia‚Äôs men‚Äôs and women‚Äôs tennis teams each defeated their opponents on Sunday to earn berths in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. 

Ethan Burch

Georgia‚Äôs women‚Äôs tennis team defeated Arkansas 5-0 on Sunday to earn a berth at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va. 

Georgia‚Äôs heavily favored women‚Äôs squad entered Sunday‚Äôs contest following a 4-0 win over Elon in Friday‚Äôs opening round of this year‚Äôs annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend. 

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs huge. One of our goals this year is to get up there and have a great event,‚Äù head coach Jeff Wallace said. ‚ÄúSo now we‚Äôve qualified and it‚Äôs going to be a lot of fun.‚Äù 

Georgia‚Äôs women‚Äôs team started off its day by clinching wins in the number one and two doubles‚Äô slots. Georgia‚Äôs first-ranked doubles team consisting of fifth-ranked duo Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase defeated Arkansas‚Äô Kimberley-Ann Surin and Brittany Huxley 6-1, while Georgia‚Äôs number two doubles team consisting of sophomore Silvia Garcia and senior Kate Fuller defeated Arkansas‚Äô Yang Pang and Oleksandra Shkorupeieva by a final of 6-4 to clinch the doubles win. 

‚ÄúI thought our doubles, it got tight; it got scary there,‚Äù Wallace said. ‚ÄúBut that‚Äôs fun. We need a little pressure early in the season.‚Äù 

Georgia‚Äôs number three doubles pair consisting of Lilly Kimbell and Caroline Brinson didn‚Äôt finish its match, but was tied 5-5 with Arkansas‚Äô Shannon Hudson and Sarah McLean when the match was ended.  

“I think our players really stepped it up,” Wallace said. “I thought our number one court just rolled and played phenomenal doubles the whole day.”

Kimbell, a senior currently ranked No. 33 nationally, was the first Bulldog to finish a set in Sunday‚Äôs contest by picking up a 6-1 win in the first set over Arkansas sophomore Surin. Surin battled back in the second set so pull within 5-3 of Kimbell, but the senior from New Braunfels, Texas finished the first singles match of the day for Georgia by picking up a 6-3 win in the second set. 

Georgia‚Äôs No. 2 singles player Garcia, a sophomore from Madrid, Spain, picked up a win in the first set of her match with Hudson as she defeated the Arkansas freshman 6-1 in the opening set. She followed Kimbell in suit with a 6-3 win of her own in the second set to cap off her match. Following Garcia‚Äôs win 6-1, 6-3 win, Georgia needed just one more point to win the overall match. 

Nationally fourth-ranked Herring, a Greenville, N.C. native, picked up her first set with a 6-0 win for Georgia to open her match with 71st-ranked Pang. Needing just one more set to finish the match for the Bulldogs, Herring held a 5-2 lead following the matchup‚Äôs final side change. On the serving side, Pang was prepared to battle as she edged closer to Herring with a win to push the set score to 5-3. However, the match was halted as Kowase defeated McLean to put the match away for Georgia with a 6-3, 6-1 win. 

“I feel so bad,” Kowase joked. “I was trying to wait a little longer so we could finish at the same time, but Lauren played great so she deserved it more than me, actually.”

Due to the fact the match point had already started in Herring‚Äôs match, she was allowed to finish following Kowase‚Äôs win. Herring won her final point to come away with a 6-0, 6-3 win in Georgia‚Äôs final match. 

‚ÄúIt was good to see Lauren just play against a top player and she just really played great, which speaks to new levels,‚Äù Wallace said. 

The ITA Kick-Off Weekend consists of 60 men‚Äôs and women‚Äôs teams competing across the country for a qualifying spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which are hosted in Houston in February by SEC member Texas A&M on the men‚Äôs side and Virginia on the women‚Äôs side. 

Fifteen men‚Äôs and 15 women‚Äôs universities hosted ITA Kick-Off Weekend events. The host sites were determined by the order of the universities‚Äô year-end 2013 ITA team rankings. Over the past weekend, three visiting schools traveled to each host site for a four-team tournament. 

Sunday‚Äôs winners earned a berth at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. 

“We were like ‘whatever it takes, we’ve got to do this,’ so I thought we played really well,” Kowase said. “I’m really happy.”

Georgia‚Äôs women‚Äôs team returns to action on Feb. 1 in a home matchup with Clemson at noon. 

Following a 4-2 victory over Columbia on Saturday, Georgia‚Äôs men‚Äôs team faced Stanford on Sunday with a berth in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Houston on the line. 

After a long evening, Georgia finished with a 4-1 team victory over Stanford. 

“That’s exciting,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “That’s always one of our goals is to compete for that title. I’m just excited to get through these tough matches we just played right here.”

The third-ranked Bulldogs were in for a battle early as the doubles teams for both Stanford and Georgia took the court. Georgia‚Äôs number three doubles team consisting of Eric Diaz and Austin Smith was tied at three a piece with Stanford‚Äôs Trey Strobel and Jamin Ball when one team had to gain the overall edge. 

Two courts down the line, Georgia‚Äôs number two doubles pair was knotted up at three with the Cardinal as well. Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha were in a tight set with Stanford‚Äôs Yale Goldberg and Maciek Romanowicz. Brasseaux and Pasha didn‚Äôt lose another game, though, and sealed Georgia‚Äôs first doubles victory with a score of 6-3. 

Not only did Diaz and Smith play well without the lead on the other end of the complex, but rallied to earn Georgia‚Äôs second and final doubles‚Äô win with a score of 6-4. The doubles point, which was clenched just 30 minutes into the match gave Georgia a 1-0 lead as the transition to singles play was made.  

Pasha, Georgia’s number one singles competitor and an Atlanta native, got out to a hot start in Sunday’s match.

The 21st-ranked junior jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Stanford‚Äôs Daniel Ho to start his first set. Pasha‚Äôs early effort resulted in the junior winning his first set 6-0. Pasha‚Äôs play continued to pay dividends as he finished Georgia‚Äôs second singles match of the day with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Ho. 

Sophomore Ben Wagland also dominated his first set to jump out to an early 5-3 lead against Stanford’s Strobel.

Wagland entered the match against Stanford ranked No. 48, and stayed consistent throughout the evening. Strobel battled back for a fourth game in the set, but Wagland finished the first set with a 6-4 win.

Wagland followed his first set with a dominant second. The Sydney, Australia native jumped out to a 5-1 lead to open his second set.

The start gave him the momentum he needed to win the second set, and the match with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Strobel. Wagland was the first Georgia singles player to finish his match. 

47th-ranked Brasseaux too found himself in a tight first set on Sunday, but held a 5-4 advantage over Stanford’s Anthony Tsodikov. Tsodikov, however, rallied back in the set’s 10th game to knot the set score up at 5. Tsodikov’s rally late in the set earned him a 6-5 win to open the match. Brasseaux, however, bounced back to take a 1-0 lead in the following set.

After six games, the second set was knotted up at three a piece. Brasseaux fought to end the second set, and did so with a 6-4 win to push the match to a third. 

A few courts down, however, Georgia‚Äôs Smith had just dropped his first set 6-4. Smith turned it back around to take a 5-2 lead over Romanowicz in the second set. Smith won his following game, resulting in a 6-2 win to tie the match up at one set a piece. A win in the following set would result in a win for Smith, and a team win for the Bulldogs. 

Brasseaux, however, was the player who best positioned himself to win the match for Georgia as Smith, who eventually lost 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, fell behind 4-1 early in the third set. 

Brasseaux didn‚Äôt have an easy three sets with Tsodikov. 

“That guy was tough,” Brasseaux said. “He doesn’t really miss, he’s fast, he gets to everything and makes you play a lot of balls. It’s a little unconventional so it took a little while to get used to. I just had to fight it out and pull through.”

With a 4-3 lead over Tsodikov in the third set, Brasseaux had a team win in Georgia‚Äôs sights. Brasseaux finished the night for Georgia with a 5-6, 6-4, 6-4 win to cap of a 4-1 Bulldogs‚Äô victory. 

‚ÄúI‚Äôm proud of my guys because we really had to go out there and tough it out,‚Äù Diaz said. 

The men‚Äôs team will be back in action on Feb. 1 as it takes on USC in Los Angeles at 4 p.m. 

“It’s just the first chance we get to play two top five teams in the country, so it will be a great couple of matches,” Brasseaux said. “Hopefully we can pull them out and just keep on rolling.”