WTENNIS: #2 Georgia Controls its Destiny Heading into Final Weekend
SOURCE: UGA ATHLETICS
One win clinches a share of the Southeastern Conference Regular Season Championship, while two victories secure an outright title for the No. 2-ranked Georgia women’s tennis team this weekend at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Bulldogs (19-0, 11-0 SEC) stand alone atop of the conference standings with South Carolina (16-3, 11-1 SEC) trailing by one match and Vanderbilt (14-5, 9-2) by two matches. Incoming for Friday’s match at 4 p.m. ET is No. 24 Kentucky (17-5, 7-4 SEC) who sits tied for fifth in the standings. After the No. 7 Commodores battle SEC’s No. 4 team Tennessee on Friday, they will travel to Athens for the regular season finale, slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
“Our team has had good focus all year and each weekend that we’ve gone out to play,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “We know what we are up against, and they know what we are trying to accomplish. We don’t try to reinvent the wheel, we just continue to do what we have been doing all year. They have prepared well for matches and have been really competitive during matches. In all, they’ve played really well together as a team, so that is our model, and that is what we need to bring this weekend.”
A win this weekend would mark the program’s 10th regular season championship with the last coming in 2013. Currently, Georgia is in the midst of the program’s second-longest single season win streak at 19, behind the Bulldogs’ 22-0 start in 2002. The Bulldogs’ dominance has shown in their eight conference shutouts – a feat only accomplished twice before in 2013 (8) and 2014 (9).
“They are both big matches,” Wallace added. “You want to win Friday, you want to win Sunday, you want to win every single time you play, but you can only play one match at a time, and we are focused on Friday’s match with Kentucky, and then once that is over, we’ll focus on Sunday’s match with Vanderbilt. We want to keep this simple and not look too far down the road. You have to be ready and excited for the very next one in front of you, and I think they are.”
The Wildcats are coming off a weekend sweep of the SEC Mississippi teams after they took the Gamecocks and the Commodores to the brink of defeat in 4-3 results two weeks ago. Senior Justina Mikulskyte, ranked No. 15 in ITA singles, leads UK and is projected to face Georgia’s Katarina Jokic, the nation’s No. 1 ranked player, on the first singles court.
The defending SEC Champion Commodores have won four-straight and will have revenge on their minds coming to Athens after the Bulldogs knocked out the ‘Dores in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoors back in February. Vanderbilt led 2-0, before Georgia took four of the remaining five courts to advance to the semifinals on its eventually championship run. Nearly two months later, both teams are still ranked in the top-10, however the matchups are projected to be different.
“When you play teams earlier in the season and then play them again later, you generally will play different players,” Wallace explained. “The lineups are usually a little different, whether it is them, or us, or a combination of both. It is rare that we play a team twice, or more and we play the exact same lineups, so it is just the nature of the sport.”
Following the weekend’s play, Georgia will travel Wednesday to College Station, Texas, for the conference tournament.