Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Tennis Dawgs break Virginia’s heart

Monday May 19, 2008

It seems silly to call a win by the defending national champion an “upset”, but what else is there? When the other team has been #1 all season and entered the tournament undefeated, an upset it is. The Bulldogs upset top-ranked Virginia 4-3 on Monday evening to advance to Tuesday’s national title against Texas in Tulsa, Okla.

The “middle of the lineup” came through for Georgia in the semifinals. The Dawgs dropped the doubles point to the nation’s top-rated doubles team but then got singles wins at #3, #2 and #5 to surge ahead. Virginia soon evened things up with wins at #1 and #6, but Jamie Hunt came from a set down at #4 to give Georgia the decisive win.

Georgia now finds themselves back in the position of the favorite as they prepare to defend their national title. The Dawgs beat Texas 4-2 in an indoor match back in February, but a lot can change in three months.

The rematch presents a couple of interesting storylines. First, there’s the opportunity to win back-to back titles. Though Georgia has five team NCAA titles to its credit (four outdoor, one indoor), they have yet to defend a title. Second is the doubles point. Texas has won that key point in its last six matches, but they dropped the doubles point in the earlier meeting with Georgia. The Dawgs showed against Virginia that losing the doubles point isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but it does leave very little margin for error in singles play.

The biggest storyline for the championship is the Texas connection to the Georgia program. Georgia #1 singles Travis Helgeson played at Texas before transferring to Georgia, and there does seem to be some bad blood or at least bitterness left over. Helgeson isn’t the first high-profile UGA transfer from Texas; Antonio Ruiz made the move in 2004. Ruiz went on to win the NCAA doubles championship with John Isner. Georgia’s Jamie Hunt, who clinched the Virginia match, is a Texas native.

The Dawgs and Longhorns will play for all the marbles Tuesday night at 7:00 on ESPNU.

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