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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Georgia Advances to Final Four with Shutout of Oklahoma

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Athens, GA--

Oklahoma head coach John Roddick knew what he would be facing Sunday night in Athens. As a former All-American and assistant coach at the University of Georgia, he was fully aware that the 2400 tailgating, flag-waving fans would give the eleventh-seeded home team a huge advantage. The Bulldogs rode the wave of support to a 4-0 win over the Sooners, and even Roddick was impressed by the decibel level they achieved.

"The crowd is loud," Roddick said. "I guess when you're wearing the red and black you don't notice how loud it is until they're cheering against you. It was louder than I remembered."

For Bulldog senior Jamie Hunt, who was a freshman on the undefeated National Championship team who won here in 2007, and Sunday contributed a 6-2, 6-1 win over Costin Paval to the Georgia cause, the crowd has a magical effect.

"With this crowd I feel unbeatable, our team feels unbeatable," Hunt said. "With that kind of crowd support, we're just playing very inspired tennis."

During the doubles point, it took a while for the crowd support to buoy the No. 1 Georgia doubles team of Javier Garrapiz and Nate Schnugg. Trailing Oklahoma's Andrei Daescu and Paval 4-2, Garrapiz and Schnugg won six of the next seven games to clinch the point. Hunt and Christian Vitulli had taken the No. 2 line over Ionut Beleleu and David Pultr 8-4, while Oklahoma's No. 3 team of Blake Boswell and Lawrence Formentera had won 8-1 over Drake Bernstein and Will Oliver.

In singles, there was no stopping Georgia, with Drake Bernstein, the hero of the Bulldogs' comeback win over Florida State in the regional final, quickly disposing of David Pultr at No. 4 6-2, 6-3, to make it 2-0. Hunt got the third point with his win over Paval and when Garrapiz broke Daescu at 2-4 in the second set, having won the first 6-4, the crowd focused its attention on his next service game. There was a lengthy delay, with Daescu fighting off five match points, and also earning a game point of his own, but Garrapiz finally ended it on his sixth try, putting the Bulldogs in their fourth Final Four in the last five seasons.

Coach Manny Diaz likes the way his team is playing right now.

"I don't know what's going to happen from here on down, but I like the way we're playing," Diaz said. "I like the way our guys are fighting. We're playing well, playing our best tennis and we're going to try to keep the level of tennis we've played so far tournament, that's our goal."

Roddick also is impressed by the way his former coach and mentor has his team competing now.

"They just need to keep doing what they're doing," Roddick said when asked what he'd advise the Bulldogs to do against Tennessee on Monday. "They've seen them, they know what to expect, and they just need to put that high level out there. They didn't make errors today. Georgia did not miss many balls...you're not getting any free points. If you do that and are fairly aggressive and you're not missing balls, you're going to be tough to beat."

The action on Monday begins with the women's semifinals. No. 2 North Carolina plays No. 3 Florida, and No. 5 Notre Dame will face No. 8 Stanford. Virginia and USC and Georgia and Tennessee will follow.

Full Results:
#11 GEORGIA (21-7) def. #17-32 OKLAHOMA (19-8), 4-0
Head Coaches: Manuel Diaz (Georgia) and John Roddick (Oklahoma)

Doubles (Order of finish: 3,2,1)
1. #32 Javier Garrapiz/Nate Schnugg (GEORGIA) def. #18 Andrei Daescu/Costin Paval (OKLAHOMA), 8-5
2. Jamie Hunt/Christian Vitulli (GEORGIA) def. #65 Ionut Beleleu/David Pultr (OKLAHOMA), 8-4
3. Blake Boswell/Lawrence Formentera (OKLAHOMA) def. Drake Bernstein/Will Oliver (GEORGIA), 8-1

Singles (Order of finish: 4,3,1*)
1. #22 Javier Garrapiz (GEORGIA) def. #28 Andrei Daescu (OKLAHOMA), 6-4, 6-2
2. #75 Nate Schnugg (GEORGIA) vs. #65 Ionut Beleleu (OKLAHOMA), 6-4, 6-5, unf.
3. Jamie Hunt (GEORGIA) def. #74 Costin Paval (OKLAHOMA), 6-2, 6-1
4. #115 Drake Bernstein (GEORGIA) def. David Pultr (OKLAHOMA), 6-2, 6-3
5. Christian Vitulli (GEORGIA) vs. Georgia Chanturia (OKLAHOMA), 6-4, 4-5, unf.
6. Will Reynolds (GEORGIA) vs. Lawrence Formentera (OKLAHOMA), 4-6, 5-5, unf.


getreal said...

Not taking away anything from Georgia but Jamie Hunt said it all: “With this crowd I feel unbeatable, our team feels unbeatable."

1. Choosing Georgia to repeatedly host the NCAAs gives Georgia home court advantage year after year.
2. This year not allowing most of the higher ranked teams to play on their show courts except when they play Georgia (who is playing on the show courts despite thier lower ranking) gives Georgia an added advantage this year.
3. Georgia’s courts are surfaced slightly different than typical college court which gives Georgia another added advantage.

All the teams work hard to get to the NCAA Championships and it should be an even playing field for all teams once they get there. Suggest anyone who is concerned about the unfairness of this write a letter to the NCAA complaining, or better yet someone is internet savvy put together an online petition, I would gladly sign it.

midwest said...

I ditto this sentiment. Classic example -- Virginia #1 seed vs defending champ USC are relegated in the back courts.

love-tennis said...

Getreal, I appreciate your insightful comments. Tennis is so mental, it is no wonder the UGA teams do great when they host it. But where are you going to go? If you go north, you'd have to schedule it indoors, right? And then you'd have to somehow accomodate a crowd. But then again, are you going to get as big a crowd up north?

I haven't been to Athens, but my recruited friend went there and was far more impressed with that facility compared to other high level D1 schools.

I can see it being a tough dilemma for whoever does make those decisions.

Eric Amend said...

Those comments above are the EXACT same reasons I spoke about last week, that I'm so adamant that Georgia SHOULD NOT host every single year, or even ever other year, because not only is it the obvious advantages that helps Georgia (Barking LARGE crowd and familiarity with the court surface) but it's the not so obvious advantages.

The McWorter Courts WILL never be the same surface speed as Field Stadium because my educated guess tells me that the McWhorter Courts don't receive the same amount of play time during the year because both the Men and Women teams from Georgia probably only practice on the Field Stadium courts. OR, If I'm incorrect in that statement, then I know for sure that I'm correct that there are NEVER any dual matches played on them until the NCAAs and, when one team is on the road during the season, I HIGHLY doubt the other squad opts to practice on the McWhorter Courts over the Field Stadium Courts.

Also, If our USC team is fortunate enough to get by UVA today, we will not have hit a single ball on the Field Stadium Courts until the day of the finals, yet the #12 seeded host team, whom we beat here in March, has played every single match on stadium.

AT THE VERY LEAST, BOTH the men's and women's semi-final matches should be held on the same courts as the finals in order to be fair to everyone!!

That would mean that the tournament might need to extend the Team event by one day OR instead of having Quarter-final matches start at the ludicrous
time of 1 p.m., they start them at 10 a.m. and then play the Men's Semi's the next day, giving the Women's Semi's the day off, and then playing the Women's Semi's the following day thus giving the Men's Finalist the day off. This would ensure that ALL of the Semi-Finalist would play on Field Stadium. There should NOT be two days off so early in the event.

But you need not look any farther than John Roddick's quote from last night's loss to Georgia for people to understand the HUGE advantage that the crowd alone gives Georgia. "The crowd is loud," Roddick said. "I guess when you're wearing the red and black you don't notice how loud it is until they're cheering against you. It was louder than I remembered."

And you want them to host every single year, or every other year????? No way

As I've said many times over and over, UGA and Athens is a fantastic place for this event BUT I'm sorry, there is NO way they should have that luxury!!

Stephen said...

Can you imagine if they did this in other sports? What if they alternated the Men's Final Four between Chapel Hill, NC and Lexington, KY? Do you think other fans and coaches would object?

Stephen said...

love-tennis --

Just in case you've never been above the Mason Dixon line I'm going to fill you in on somthing; it is actually warm in late-May in the Northern states. They would not have to play indoors any more than they have to in Athens.

Tennis Guru said...

"Virginia #1 seed vs defending champ USC are relegated in the back courts"

The only reason why this match is played on the back courts is because the men's and women's are at the same venue.

At least there is a crowd to watch these matches, rather than only coaches and parents, ie. Texas A&M last year. That was very boring and not as fun for the athletes.

I have also read quotes from coaches saying that they would rather play in front on opposing fans than none at all.

Georgia should not host the championships every year, but I still have not seen a ncaa tennis venue to even come close to that environment.

The 3 best teams are in the Semi's. USC is playing the top seed in the Semi's for NOT being the #2 seed, and that's what happens when you are ranked lower.

Pipe down on the Georgia crowd, it's awesome for college tennis, and if you are good enough, you will win...crowd or not.

Tennis Doctor said...

Teams are supposed to peak at the end of the season, not during the dual season. Everything happens in May!! Just because you beat a team in the regular season has little bearing on what is going to happen at the NCAA's. Coaches need to prepare their teams to play their best in May, not February or March.

USC was smart and played Georgia in Athens during the regular season to prepare themselves mentally for the environment. Ohio State did the same, amongst others.

Georgia has a home site advantage this year but they win in May consistently because that's how they are coached. Look at their track record. Dick Gould and Dick Leach had the same success. The best coaches, in any sport, gear their team for the end, not the beginning and middle.

get real said...

To Love Tennis

Seems that we all agree it’s unacceptable for the NCAAs Championships to give Georgia the home court advantage compounded by the fact that the tournament allows Georgia to play on their show courts even when they are a low seed. So what if the other facilities are not quite as impressive, providing a level playing field is more important. Over the years Georgia has been given an unfair advantage and that is not what this tournament is about. This is a big country and I am hard pressed to believe there are not other options, even if the tournament moves to a neutral cite.

love-tennis said...

In some ways though, I really appreciate any place where fans are full of fervor for tennis. Our sport has been such a second hand sport to bball and football. It is nice to hear of a college venue where the fans do get excited.

I heard that next year it is Stanford (at least for females), and then the following year, back to Georgia.

player said...

Show courts, back courts, it doesn't matter . USC still wins !

Common UVA, this was suppose to be your year to win it all ??

go sc said...

Georgia no longer gets the tournament every year, so it's kind of non issue. Most (not all) teams that get to Athens would rather play Georgia in front of a packed house than another team in a place that is 25 percent full.

I agree that it is pretty surprising they let Georgia play on those show courts. That said it's kind of common sense. You can't fit 2,000 fans in McWhorter. It would be a huge mess. Plus I would imagine UVA-USC had pretty full bleachers playing on those courts.

get real said...

To Tennis Guru,

You are the voice of an apologist for Georgia. Bottom line- home court advantage is home court advantage, and the NCAA hands it to Georgia on a silver platter. So what if their facility is the best, are there are other adequate college facilities in the country? A consistent home court advantage is against the spirit of true competition and I don’t believe it happens in other college sport, correct me if I am wrong. Letting Georgia host the NCAAs may be the easiest solution but definately not the right one.

Tennis Guru said...

The NCAA hands it to Georgia on a silver platter....

Obvisiously you have no idea how the process works. And no--not a voice of an apologist for Georgia. I'm a huge college fan that beleives in the entire college experience for the player. The top teams should NOT be playing in front of only their families. They should be playing in front of thousands of people, like all the other NCAA's tournaments.

I 100% agree with you that the NCAA should be moved, but should be at a campus that has an incredible tennis environment.

At the same token, Boys 18s Nationals are in Kalamazoo every year. The 4 Grand Slams are in the same venue every year. This is the level below and higher than college.

Wherever the host college is for NCAA's, they should have the advantage: Stanford--didn't do well, Texas A&M--didn't do well; Notre Dame--didn't do well, Tulsa didn't do well. Just because Georgia is in the title hunt every year, then it should be moved.

Bottom line--yes, it should be moved, but not very much. The College Hall of Fame is in Athens, and it's been the Home of College Tennis epic matches and history over the past 30-40 years.

Thankfully Stanford does an incredible job hosting NCAA, so should be an awesome event next year.

Austin said...

What a waste of a topic. You all are so busy talking about whether or not UGA should host there is no talk about the actual matches that were just played. MOVE ON!

work-hard-tennis said...

Ok: incredible that Zoe DeBruckyer on North Carolina was put in the lineup against Duke after not having played in the lineup since April 10th. (The Duke coach commented that they thought they'd win that match for sure). Instead Zoe lost the first set, changed her strategy, and stormed back to win the final two sets, 6-2, 6-0 against a very good player, Mary Clayton.

How is that for coming through for your team?

Per Athens online, the Duke coach thought that match made a big difference.