Dawgs way too much for Gators

ATHENS – The marquee matchup at Thursday's first day of the men's NCAA Tennis Championships didn't finish, but that didn't matter to Georgia.

The top-seeded Bulldogs struck a blow for all the NCAA's downtrodden with a 4-0 victory over Florida in front of 1,940 fans at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Gators have had a stranglehold for two years on football and men's basketball, but Georgia is the bully in men's tennis.

The Bulldogs, who are widely expected to win their fifth national championship here, improved to 29-0 and will play UCLA in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Florida coach Andy Jackson said after the match that Georgia lived up to its title of runaway favorite.

"I do," he said. "I'm not trying to play games because that's a lot of pressure, and to their credit, I'm not really sure it was totally to their advantage today to be here. I know they had a great home crowd, but it's a lot of pressure on those guys, and they certainly handled it well today. We felt like we did our job to get here, and Georgia was too good for us."

Thursday seemed to take a long time to arrive for the Bulldogs, senior John Isner said.

"Our team was very anxious to get out here and play this round of 16," he said. "It's definitely very good to get that first one out of the way."

Isner was involved in the most anticipated individual match as he played Florida's Jesse Levin at No. 1 singles.

Isner is the top-ranked player in the country, but his lone loss of the spring season came against Levin, who is 21-0 this year. Even without the revenge factor, the match had a ready-made storyline: the 6-foot-9 Bulldog senior against the 5-foot-9 Gator freshman.

Isner won the first set 7-5 and was one point away from taking a 5-4 lead in the second set when Georgia junior Travis Helgeson clinched the team victory with a 6-4, 6-1 win at No. 4 singles.

"I wanted to get the rematch," Isner said. "I got a little mad at myself that I wasn't able to clamp down in the second set and maybe close that out."

Isner and Levin never got to finish because of the strength at the bottom of Georgia's lineup.

After the Bulldogs won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead, No. 5 player Nate Schnugg and No. 4 player Matic Omerzel each won easily to give Georgia a lightning-quick 3-0 lead.

"We're so strong at every position," Schnugg said. "It's not just the top three or the bottom three. It's all of us, and I think that puts so much pressure on everyone we play. When teams look at that, I can't imagine what they think."

The women's championships begin here today. Second-seeded Georgia (23-1) takes on 15th-seeded William & Mary (22-2) at 6 p.m.

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