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Tennis

    From Georgia Sports Communications ATHENS, Ga. — With the Georgia men’s tennis team trailing 3-2, Jan Zielinski and Wayne Montgomery won deciding third sets to deliver an upset of 4th-seeded Southern California Thursday evening in the Round of 16 of the NCAA Championships.  It was a back and forth match, as the Bulldogs (21-7) lost the doubles point and the two teams then traded singles decisions until Montgomery clinched the match at the second court. The 13th-seeded Bulldogs will now face the No. 5 seed, UCLA, in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Trojans finish the season 27-6.  “We have a very young team,” said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. 'We have a lot to learn and we have a lot of improving that we are capable of doing. Coming in No. 12 and playing the No. 4, we were not the favorite. Ranking wise, we knew we were the underdog but I believe we are capable of beating anyone in the tournament. Our mindset is to take it one at a time, put one foot in front of the other. We have a huge challenge facing UCLA next. They are a great team and they already beat us this year. We have to get our rest and try to do it again. I am confident our guys have learned and matured as the season has progressed and I know what we are capable of.” In doubles, Georgia and USC split at the second and third courts and it came down to No. 1. Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery took a 6-4 win at No. 3 to give the Bulldogs the early doubles advantage. Their match was on serve until the last game, when Duncan slammed home a shot at the net to get the first break in the match. In the 15 matches the two have played together at the third court, they have been dominant, winning 14.  At the first court, Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb trailed 6-5 and were serving trying to force a tiebreaker. Zielinski and Loeb, who make up the nation’s top-ranked pair, quickly found themselves behind 15-40 in the game, but came back to win it and tied the match at 6-6. The USC pair of Brandon Holt and Riley Smith, ranked 14th, won the tiebreaker, 7-1, and sealed the doubles point for the Trojans. Georgia got off to a great start in singles, winning four of the six first sets. The highlight of the opening frames was Montgomery’s comeback at the second court. The junior from Somerset West, South Africa, currently ranked 33rd, trailed 5-2 in the first set before winning five straight games to take it, 7-5. The Bulldogs nearly earned another opening set, but Zielinski dropped his first-set tiebreaker, 7-5, at No. 4.  Duncan’s 6-4, 6-1 win was the first point on the board for Georgia and evened the match, 1-1. The sophomore is now 19-5 in dual match play on the season, including a 16-4 mark at the fifth court. USC retook the lead, 2-1, after a 6-4, 6-4 win by No. 19 Brandon Holt over Georgia’s 56th-ranked Nathan Ponwith. No. 59 Emil Reinberg evened the match at 2-2 with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 3. The final point came when Reinberg hit a powerful serve to USC’s Logan Smith, who sailed it long. Shortly after Smith hit it, Reinberg began celebrating and ignited a roar from the crowd.  Montgomery would eventually lose his second set in a tiebreaker, and with the match tied at 2-2, only the evenly-numbered courts were yet to be decided. Zielinski and Montgomery each got an early break in the third set to gain an advantage, but the match at No. 6 was the first of the three to finish. Loeb fell 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, and Georgia then got the wins it needed to seal the victory from Zielinski and Montgomery. Zielinski was first, holding serve in the final game to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, and less than two minutes later, Montgomery broke and clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-7, 6-2 win. Georgia’s dramatic victory brings to mind the team’s 4-3 win over USC in last year’s round of 16, when then-senior Austin Smith trailed 5-3 in the final set and came back to win the match for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs and Bruins are scheduled to meet Saturday at 4 p.m. in the quarterfinals. The two schools met earlier this season at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, in Gainesville, Fla., where UCLA earned a 4-3 win. The loss was part of a 3-5 start for the Bulldogs, but after Thursday’s win, they have now won 18 of their last 20 matches. FINAL: #12 GEORGIA (21-7) 4,  #4 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (27-6) 3 Doubles   1. #14 Brandon Holt/ Riley Smith (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #1 Jan Zielinski/Robert Loeb (GEORGIA), 7-6(1) 2.Nick Crystal/ Laurens Verboven (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Emil Reinberg/ Nathan Ponwith (GEORGIA), 6-3 3.Wayne Montgomery/ Walker Duncan (GEORGIA) def. Rob Bellamy/ Jack Jaede (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 6-4 Singles  1. #19 Brandon Holt (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #56 Nathan Ponwith (GEORGIA), 6-4, 6-4 2. #33 Wayne Montgomery (GEORGIA) def. Nick Crystal (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA),7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-2 3. #59 Emil Reinberg (GEORGIA) def. #88 Logan Smith (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 6-2, 7-5 4. Jan Zielinski (GEORGIA) def. Jack Jaede (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 5. Walker Duncan (GEORGIA) def. Thibault Forget (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 6-4, 6-1 6. Riley Smith (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Robert Loeb (GEORGIA), 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2,1) Singles (5,1,3,6,4,2)
  • ATHENS – University of Georgia police confirmed Tuesday morning they are actively investigating a case in which prescription drugs are alleged to have been stolen and/or mishandled by persons associated with Georgia’s nationally-renown tennis programs. No names were included in the preliminary report, which was released to media outlets that had utilized public record laws to request information about the recent suspensions of two assistant tennis coaches. Bo Hodge, associate head coach of the men’s tennis team, and Drake Bernstein, associate head coach for the women’s team, are each under suspension while their respective teams compete in the NCAA tennis tournament. Both teams won their first two rounds of matches this past weekend and advanced to the NCAA Championships, which will be hosted by UGA at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and conducted over a 10-day period starting Thursday. The report released Tuesday provided few details beyond the nature of the investigation and when it started. “On May 5 at approximately 1700 hours the UGA Police Department received a complaint related to the possible theft and mishandling of prescription involving a number of individuals within the tennis program,” police said in the incident report released Tuesday. Diaz, the men’s tennis coach is listed as the reporting party and the UGA Athletic Association is listed as the victim. Georgia’s No. 12-ranked men’s team (20-7) faces No. 4 seeded Southern Cal (27-5) on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the NCAA quarterfinals. The fifth-ranked women (19-5) play 12th-seeded Pepperdine on Friday at 4 p.m.  
  • From UGA Sports Communications ATHENS, Ga. — Five Georgia men’s tennis players, including the tandem of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb who are the No. 1 overall seed in doubles, have been awarded bids to the singles and doubles portion of the 2017 NCAA Championships, it was announced late Wednesday.  Junior Wayne Montgomery, freshman Nathan Ponwith and sophomore Emil Reinberg are each at-large selections for this year’s singles championship, while Loeb and Zielinski are automatic qualifiers into this year’s doubles tournament. The individual singles and doubles championships will be played from May 24-29 in Athens, following the team portion of the tournament, which will also be played in Athens from May 18-23.  Loeb and Zielisnki secure All-America honors by being seeded No. 1 and are the second Bulldog tandem in three years to earn the top seed, joining Ben Wagland and Austin Smith in 2015. Previously, the last Georgia duo to earn the No. 1 overall seed was John Isner and Luis Flores in 2007. Loeb and Zielinski are 22-9 overall this season, including a 15-8 mark at the No. 1 doubles court for the Bulldogs. The freshman/sophomore tandem has defeated three top-5 teams and each were named to the 2017 All-SEC First Team.  Ponwith will enter postseason play as the SEC Freshman of the Year and first-team All-SEC selection. The Scottsdale, Arizona, native plays at the No.1 singles court for the Bulldogs and boasts a 20-11 singles record for the year. During regular season play, Ponwith broke the league record with five SEC Freshman of the Week honors in a single season.  Right behind Ponwith in the Georgia lineup late in the season has been Montgomery. The Somerset West, South Africa native has been named first-team All-SEC in each of his three seasons in Athens. Last year, Montgomery raced through the NCAA Tournament and placed on the 2017 All-Tournament Team at the No. 2 singles court. This year, Montgomery is 27-16 in singles and teams with Walker Duncan for an 11-1 record at the No. 3 doubles spot.  Reinberg has had the hot hand as of late for the Bulldogs. After going 3-0 in singles and 2-1 in doubles during last week’s SEC tournament, the Atlanta native earned Most Valuable Player honors en route to placing on the All-SEC second team. Overall, Reinberg leads the team with 32 singles wins this year.  Matchups for the individual tournaments will be announced during the team portion. A total of 64 players will participate in singles in addition to 32 doubles teams. Georgia players have won the NCAA singles title four times: Mikael Pernfors in 1984 and 1985, and Matias Boeker in 2001 and 2002. Pernfors beat teammate George Bezecny for the crown in 1985. The Bulldogs have won three NCAA doubles titles including Ola Malmqvist and Allen Miller in 1983, Boeker and Travis Parrott in 2001, and John Isner and Antonio Ruiz in 2005.
  • From UGA Sports Communications STARKVILLE, Miss. – The 14th-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team won for the ninth time in its last 10 matches and improved to 8-0 in Southeastern Conference action with a 4-0 victory against No. 17 Mississippi State on Thursday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. Georgia is now 12-6 overall this season and has won 22 consecutive regular season contests against SEC foes. Mississippi State, which had a 10-match win streak entering last Sunday’s match against Ole Miss, falls to 14-5 overall, 5-2 in SEC play.  “We knew we were going to have to battle a little wind and were going to face a very tough Mississippi State team today,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “I give a lot of credit to our guys for how they responded to play extremely well against a team that had won 10 of its last 11 matches coming into today. We showed a lot of resiliency in doubles and then came back and really showed up to play in singles. We are happy to get out of here with a win and will have to be ready to play a good Auburn team on Saturday.” A pair of tiebreakers at the first and third positions would decide an action packed doubles point between the two teams.  Mississippi State picked up the first doubles win of the day as the tandem of Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter defeated the Georgia duo of Nathan Ponwith and Emil Reinberg, 6-3, at court No. 2. Meanwhile, Georgia’s No. 1 team of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb found itself down 4-2 with Wayne Montgomery and Walker Duncan locked in a tight battle at No. 3.  Loeb and Zielinski broke back and eventually evened up their match at 5-5 before taking the contest into a tiebreaker. The duo jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back as they downed MSU’s 31st-ranked Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey, 7-6 (3).  The doubles point came down to Montgomery and Duncan, who looked in control early at No. 3. Their lead soon disappeared, but the tandem rebounded in the tiebreaker and downed Nuno Borges and Giovanni Ovadani, 7-6 (5).  Much like it did in its last match against Alabama this past Saturday, Georgia looked impressive from the outset in singles, taking four first-set wins.  Duncan was the first to strike for the Bulldogs as he improved to 7-1 in SEC play with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 5 over MSU’s Oradini. Loeb quickly followed at No.6, putting Georgia up 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph against Foshey.  Montgomery delivered the clincher and capped off his team’s strong showing with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Cutura at the No. 2 singles spot.  Georgia now travels to face Auburn at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT on Saturday.  No. 14 Georgia 4, No. 17 Mississippi State 0 March 30, 2017 – Starkville, Miss. – A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre   Doubles Results 1. No. 8 Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. No. 31 Niclas Braun/Trevor Foshey (MSU) 7-6(3) 2. Mate Cutura/Vaughn Hunter (MSU) def. No. 48 Nathan Ponwith/Emil Reinberg (UGA) 6-3 3. Walker Duncan/Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. Nuno Borges/Giovanni Oradini (MSU) 7-6(5) Order of finish: 2, 1, 3 Singles Results 1. Nathan Ponwith (UGA) vs. No. 8 Nuno Borges (MSU) 6-4, 0-6, 0-1, suspended 2. No. 32 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. Mate Cutura (MSU) 6-4, 6-4 3. No. 65 Emil Reinberg (UGA) vs. No. 110 Strahinja Rakic (MSU)4-6, 6-3, suspended 4. Jan Zielinski (UGA) vs. Niclas Braun (MSU) 4-6, 6-2, suspended 5. Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Giovanni Oradini (MSU) 6-2, 6-2 6. Robert Loeb (UGA) def. Trevor Foshey (MSU) 6-3, 6-0   Order of finish: 5, 6, 2
  • AUBURN, Ala. ----The No. 13 Georgia Bulldogs women’s tennis team blew by fourth-ranked Auburn, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.   The Bulldogs (9-3, 3-1 SEC) raced through doubles play with two 6-1 victories to gain the early 1-0 advantage. Then in singles, Georgia took care of Auburn (18-2, 2-1 SEC) with wins from junior Mariana Gould and freshmen Elena Christofi and Marta Gonzalez.   “I thought today was our best doubles point of maybe the year,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “We played really well and when you win 6-1 sets in doubles then you know you have done some things right out there. It gave us a lot of momentum going into singles and I thought our players did a great job out there today. It was tough, close matches but we’ve been working on some things and they are starting the pay off. The team is looking really good.”   In doubles, Georgia’s tandem of Gould and Gonzalez downed Auburn’s No. 38-ranked duo Georgie Axon and Caroline Turner at No. 3. Moments later, junior Kennedy Shaffer sealed the doubles point with a spike after a Christofi serve and a few volleys. Christofi and Shaffer, ranked 58th in ITA doubles, earned their second straight win after defeating Alannah Griffin and Andie Dikosavljevic (#71). The Gould/Gonzalez duo improved to 12-2 and notched their fourth straight win.   First to finish in singles was Gould on court six with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Roos van der Zwaan, putting Georgia up 2-0. Auburn’s top-ranked singles player Alizzee Michaud (#29) narrowed the gap to 2-1 after defeating junior Ellen Perez, ranked 55th, at No. 1. However, that would be the Tigers’ only point as the Bulldogs closed it out.   Gonzalez and Christofi both took their first sets against their opponents then won 7-5 in the second to secure the win. On court five, Gonzalez beat Griffin, while 18th-ranked Christofi bested Auburn’s top frosh Taylor Russo (#102) on the second court.   The win over a top-5 ranked opponent was Georgia’s second of the year with the first coming against then-ranked No. 3 Pepperdine in the National Team Indoors. This marked the third straight match that the Bulldogs have taken the doubles point.   “In the SEC, you are always going to play a great team,” Wallace added. “We just know every time we play it is going to be a competitive match so we just have to enjoy that opportunity each time we go out. I really like where we are at with that.”   The Bulldogs continue their road schedule next Friday, March 17th at 5 p.m. against top-ranked Florida in Gainesville, Fla.