Tennis get back to work

ATHENS - The No. 2-ranked University of Georgia men¹s tennis team (2-0) gets back into action Feb. 11-12, with a pair of weekend home matches against East Tennessee State (4-3) and No. 68 Furman (1-5). Saturday¹s match against ETSU will get underway at 2 p.m. while Sunday¹s tilt with Furman begins at noon. Both matches will be played at the Lindsay Hopkins Indoor Courts. Admission to all matches is free.

³Right now injuries are a serious concern for our team,² said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. ³This weekend could be a very tough challenge for us. Not only are some guys banged up but they all had a very difficult week academically as well. It¹s going to take a big effort on our part to get through the weekend. Right now, with our injury situation, I¹m not so sure we¹re the No. 2 team in the country. My hope is that we can prepare ourselves to rise up and fight through it, and maybe come out of the weekend in a little bit better shape than when we came in.²

ETSU enters Saturday¹s contest with a 4-3 record. The Pirates best win to this point was a 4-0 shutout of East Carolina. They also came within one point of upsetting No. 16 Tennessee as they fell in a 4-3 decision in Knoxville. ETSU and Georgia have have only faced off one time in dual-match play, a contest that took place in 1981. Georgia won the match by a score of 9-0.

East Tennessee is a good, young, up and coming team,² said Diaz. ³They are well coached and very talented. They went the distance with Tennessee and they will come in here with big aspirations.²

The Bulldogs have a much more extensive history with Furman. Georgia is 27-0 all-time against the Paladins, with the last meeting coming in 2005. UGA won that contest by a 6-1 score. Furman carries a current record of 1-5 into the match, with their lone winning coming over Penn in Tallahassee, Fla., by a score of 5-2.

In the latest edition of the Fila/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, Georgia remained at No. 2 for the second consecutive week. Georgia began the spring season at No. 3, after a preseason fall ranking of No. 7. The Dogs trail only Florida in the poll. The rankings once again proved that the SEC continues to be one of the nation¹s toughest conferences. Georgia is one of seven SEC teams listed in the top-25 (with three in the top five), the most of any other conference in the country. The other five members of the SEC are listed among the nation¹s Top 60 teams.

The weekend action will be Georgia¹s first since its 5-2 road victory at Clemson last Friday. These two matches will be the Bulldogs¹ last opportunity to tune up for the upcoming ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 17-20, in Seattle, Wash.

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