©Colette Lewis 2010--
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.
#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.
Sunday, May 23, 2010