Match Points

Jeff Wallace has been the Georgia women's tennis coach since 1986. He has over 450 career wins and 2 NCAA titles under his belt. In terms on percentage he is the nation's winningest coach for those with over 400 wins. This season he faces one of his toughest challenges yet. Of the 8 players on the roster, 5 of them are newcomers. As the season begins I had a chance to talk to him.


Dave McMahon -- This season brings a brand new challenge to you with all of these newcomers on the Georgia roster...

Jeff Wallace -- It does. I have had other seasons where I have had 4 newcomers, but this year we have the most with 5. It is a challenge, but it fun and exciting. These new girls want to be Georgia Bulldogs.

DM -- There are a few returners including All-SEC Natalie Frazier, what can she bring?

JW -- She is a fierce competitor. She always gives everything she can. She has a big heart and fights to win in every match. I admire that quality about her.

DM -- The other 2 returners are not bad either...

JW -- Darya Ivanov grew a lot this fall. She was unranked and now she is ranked #20. That might be the biggest jump ever! And Kelley Hyndman is a terrific middle of the lineup player.

DM -- Speaking of Kelley, her sister Yvette joins the team this season... is it difficult to coach sisters?

JW -- It is fun, but I treat them as 2 players on the team. I may joke about it, but that is it. They are Bulldogs. They may be sisters, but they are also teammates... I have coached other sisters before... the Grey's and McCarthy's.

DM -- Another one of your newcomers is Monika Dancevic, she is transfer from Miami, she has a lot of national experience, that is going to help right?

JW -- Monika is a very hard worker. She played on Miami and played in team finals and that is our main goal... when she was in school, we recruited her, but she never came here on a visit. I am glad she came after things did not work out for her in Miami.

DM -- So many of the girls you have recruited over the past few years are not from the United States, how do you sell to them, the University of Georgia as the place they should go?

JW -- Most international girls train here in the U.S. For example, a new girl, Naoko Ueshima is from Japan, but she trained in Hilton Head, so it was easy to see her play. But I tell them what I tell all the girls that the University of Georgia is an incredible academic institution that has fantastic facilities and an athletic department that is the best.

DM -- How tough is the SEC this year?

JW -- Every year it is one of the best. In my 20 years of coaching I think it has been the best about 15 of those years. This year Florida is good. Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky looks good. South Carolina looks to have their best year ever.

DM -- You said earlier that your goal is the finals of the NCAA's... well this season it is back in Athens... how great is that?

JW -- It is huge honor. We are really excited. We are going to work real hard so we can do well in the tournament.

DM -- Tell me about last year... it was disappointing in terms of record and rankings... what did you or the team learn from that experience?

JW -- We were in a transition year. We were rebuilding. We had a few injuries and we had to let a player go. As the season went on we grew and started to gel. I wish we had another month to play together, we would have done bigger and better things... But we laid down a foundation here and I think we did a good job recruiting and we will be better.

DM -- Last question... who will win this year's Australian Open?

JW -- On the men's side you have to pick Roger Federer. On the women's it is tougher. Sharapova is the favorite, but Clijsters is due and Serena is playing under the radar. I don't know.

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The Georgia women's tennis team will be hosting the Georgia Invitational this Friday through Sunday in Athens.

Their first dual meet at home is on January 26th against Texas A&M.

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