UGA Tennis Completes 1st Undefeated Season

KNOXVILLE – The No. 1-ranked University of Georgia men's tennis team (22-0, 11-0 SEC) added an undefeated regular season to its list of accomplishments for the 2006 campaign as the Bulldogs took down Tennessee (9-10, 3-8 SEC) by a score of 5-2 in Knoxville Saturday afternoon. With a 22-0 record, the perfect regular-season effort is the first in Georgia men's tennis history.

"We have really accomplished something special this season," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "All of our guys have done a heck of a job. We have won all kinds of championships in the past but I think this is something that our guys will truly appreciate and feel very good about as time goes by. That being said, I told our guys after the match that what we've done in the regular season is over, nobody can take that away. But now we are not defending anything. We have to go out in the SEC Tournament and establish ourselves one match at a time and attack the post season the same way we did with everything this year."

Georgia began the match in what has become signature fashion, winning the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs won the doubles point in in 20 out of 21 matches on the year (the doubles portion was not played in the 4-0 win at Mississippi State). First off the court was the 12th-ranked Bulldog tandem of junior John Isner (Greensboro, N.C.) and senior captain Antonio Ruiz (Monterrey, Mexico) with an 8-1 victory over 29th-ranked Adam Hubble and Ben Rogers in the first position. Clinching the point was the Georgia's 10th-ranked senior duo of Strahinja Bobusic (Perth, Australia) and Colin Purcell (Louisville, Ky.) as they posted an 8-5 win over David Baxendine and Johnny Thornton in the third spot. Completing the doubles sweep was the 23rd-ranked team of sophomore junior Matic Omerzel (Kranj, Slovenia) and Flores, as they took down Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel in the second doubles slot, 9-8.

In singles play, Tennessee tied up the match at 1-1 as Derek Stephens downed Bobusic in the sixth singles match, 6-2, 6-2. Purcell answered right back however, putting the Bulldogs back on top by a score of 2-1 as he defeated Baxendine, 7-6, 6-4 in the fourth singles slot, extending his win streak to 15 matches. What may be more noteworthy though is that within this streak, he has won every match in straight sets. He becomes the first Bulldog to win 30 consecutive sets since Mikael Pernfors in 1983.

No. 2-ranked Isner was next to tilt the scoreboard further in the Bulldogs' favor as he made it a 3-1 Georgia advantage with his 20th consecutive singles victory as he posted a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Hensel in the second position. Flores then clinched the match with his win over Cameron.

"We've got three guys that continue to be red hot," said Diaz. "John, Luis and Colin have put together some great, long win streaks for us. Tennessee provided a great challenge and put in a strong effort today, and we responded well. It was not pretty everywhere on the courts but we competed well and we remained committed to each other and our goals."

With the match already decided in Georgia's favor, Tennessee picked up its second point of the day as Rogers beat No. 61 Omerzel in the fifth slot, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Ruiz finished off the match with a three-set win of his own, taking down Kiril Tcherveniachki, 6-7, 7-5, 6-1.

Georgia becomes the 10th team since 1977 to post a perfect regular season as the feat has now been accomplished in four straight years (2005 – Baylor; 2004 – Illinois; 2003 – Illinois). Four times one of these teams went on to win the NCAA Championship, while just two of the 10 have failed to make the championship match. Those two fell in the semifinals.

"It has been a great ride," said Diaz. "But again, now the regular season is over and we must focus on moving forward. We have to continue to work hard in practice and continue to improve ourselves. We still have the SEC Tournament and a little more than a month before the NCAA Tournament."

Georgia will see its next action in the SEC Tournament, April 20-23 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Bulldogs have earned the No. 1 seed and will receive a first-round bye. The complete draw with matchups and match times will be announced by the SEC later this week.

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