Men's Tennis Opens Season at SEC Indoors

ATHENS, Ga. ­ The No. 3-ranked University of Georgia men¹s tennis team kicks off its spring season at the SEC Indoor Championships in Lexington, Ky. Jan. 20-23. Senior captain Antonio Ruiz and junior John Isner are the reigning SEC Indoor Doubles champions and will look to defend that title this weekend.

³Our guys are very excited to get the season underway,² said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. ³We have not had much time to prepare following the winter break but our squad is in a good frame of mind and is really coming together as a team, and its always fun to see that happening.²

This weekend¹s action will be the first test for the Bulldogs after being selected as the top team in conference and the favorite to win the regular-season conference championship in the SEC Coaches¹ Poll, released earlier this week. The tournament is run in an individual format, with a singles and doubles flights.

In 2005, Isner and Ruiz became the second Georgia team to open the season by winning the SEC Indoor Doubles Championship and then continue on to win the NCAA Doubles Championship that same year. The other Bulldog duo to accomplish the feat was Matias Boeker and Travis Parrott in 2001.

Isner and Ruiz will also look to become the first Georgia players, either in singles or doubles, to win back-to-back SEC Indoor championship titles since the tournament moved to the current open format in 1988. Since that time, Georgia has won 10 SEC Indoor titles, including six in doubles (1989, ¹96, 97, 99, 2001 and 2005) and four in singles (1990, ¹97, ¹99 and 2001). On three occasions, Georgia has won both the singles and doubles title in the same year (1997, ¹99 and 2001). Coincidentally, it happened three straight times; that is, Georgia either won both titles in a given year or won neither of them, during that 5-year span.

This weekend will also mark the first collegiate action for sophomore Luis Flores, whose first performance for the Red and Black may be one of the most anticipated moments in recent Georgia tennis history. The NCAA¹s ruling that he was ineligible for competition last year has been well documented and has finally run its course, as Flores became eligible on Jan. 1.

³This weekend will be particularly exciting for Luis,² said Diaz. ³He has waited for a long time to play his first collegiate match and will now get to join his teammates on the court.²

Georgia enters the tournament with three players ranked in the top 100 in the country, led by Isner, slotted at No. 2 in the nation. Senior captain Strahinja Bobusic follows close behind, just outside of the nation¹s top-10, coming in at No. 12. Junior Matic Omerzel is the other ranked Bulldog at No. 96. In doubles, Bobusic and fellow senior captain Colin Purcell are listed at No. 6. The rankings for Isner, Bobusic and the team of Bobusic/Purcell all are career-best marks.

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