Net Gains

The Georgia men's tennis team finished their regular season this past weekend by defeating the University of Tennessee. In the process, Georgia finished the regular season 22-0. It was only the 10th time in NCAA history that a men's tennis team finished the regular season undefeated. It was also the 23rd SEC title in the regular season. Since the SEC tournament began in 1990, the Bulldogs have won 5 of them. As they prepare for number 6, head coach Manuel Diaz stopped to talk with me.

Dave McMahon -- You just won another regular season SEC title, obviously you want to keep on winning, but how important is it to win the SEC tournament before entering the NCAA's?

Manuel Diaz -- This is very important. I don't want to take anything away from the regular season, but you need to do very well in the SEC tournament in order to build momentum when you head in the NCAA's.

DM -- You finished the regular season undefeated, how hard is that to do for any team in collegiate tennis?

MD -- It's extremely difficult. We have never done it. We are the 10th team to do it, I thought it would be a lot less.

DM -- Compare this team to some of the other Georgia tennis teams in the past that have won SEC and/or NCAA titles?

MD -- This is one of the best. This team has three components that make a great team: 1) great play up top... we have one of the best 1-2 punches around, Isner and Flores are very tough to beat. 2) great doubles... we have only lost the doubles point once this year. 3) great depth... from top to bottom we are very very good and that is important.

DM -- You mention depth. Although you have a few stars, everyone on this team contributes, right?

MD -- Right, our 4-5-6 guys that we play can be 2-3 players at most places.

DM -- Your seniors are playing well, too.

MD -- They are playing great, and they do a great job being leaders, too.

DM -- How good is John Isner?

MD -- Very good. He has been ranked 1-2 in the nation all year, he was ranked #2 last week by the computers, but I think he will be #1 when the new ones come out.

DM -- What are his strengths?

MD -- He is a great team player. He wins big matches. He is very focussed on what he has to do. He does everything a tall player does, (he is 6'9") he has a great serve, plays well at the net, but he also covers the court real well, and he has great hands and puts great touch on the ball.

DM -- You mention the importance of doubles, why is it so important?

MD -- It is very important. We have lost there just once this season. I think if we win doubles, teams will have a difficult time beating us 4-2 in singles because of our depth.

DM -- Explain the differences in collegiate tennis to the pro tennis game?

MD -- The main difference is the fans. They are right there and they are loud. You can see everything and if you don't like one match you can sit in front of one that may be better. There is so much energy with both the players and the fans. It is a lot of fun.

DM -- Thank you for your time and after the SEC tournament is over, check if Athens is hosting part of the NCAA regionals and if so support the Dawgs.

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