ATHENS — “Fill Magill.”
That’s the battle cry on the University of Georgia campus this weekend. Whether you’re a fan of college tennis, it might be worth your while to heed it.
UGA’s Dan Magill Complex is expected to attract one of the larger crowds ever to attend a women’s tennis dual match Friday night as the fourth-seeded Georgia Bulldogs take on Oklahoma in an NCAA Super Regional (5 p.m.). Opened after a massive renovation just over a year ago, Magill’s Henry Feild Stadium seats more than 1,800 spectators, and the vast complex can accommodate even more fans.
On Saturday, coach Manny Diaz’s men’s team will step onto the storied championship courts there. Those Bulldogs, too, will be looking to advance to the Round of 16 with a third-round match against Harvard (2 p.m.). The championship rounds commence next week in Orlando.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
First, it will be the final home match of Jeff Wallace’s illustrious career. The Lady Bulldogs’ coach of the past 38 years announced his retirement last week. He is the active coach in tennis with the most victories (816) and has led Georgia to six national championships, including two outdoor titles.
Georgia has a chance to add another title to Wallace’s resume this year. The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (22-4) have lost only one match since SEC play began, entered postseason play by winning the SEC Tournament and haven’t lost a set on the way to advancing to the Super Regional.
“This is about celebrating Jeff and celebrating these seniors who have poured so much into this program,” said Drake Bernstein, Georgia’s associate head coach who was appointed Monday to succeed Wallace. “It’s hard to imagine the lives that (Wallace) has touched while he has been here. The least we can do is leave it all out there for one more tournament run.’”
But before they can think about any of that, they’ll need to get past an Oklahoma squad that will be focused on spoiling the part. The match is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start.
The Georgia-Harvard men’s match will get under way at 2 p.m. Saturday. Likewise, the men’s team had been one of the hotter in college tennis before losing the SEC tournament championship match to Kentucky in an upset. But Diaz’s squad also is considered a serious contender for a championship in 2023.
Tickets for this weekend’s matches go on sale online at “Georgia Bulldogs | Online Ticket Office | Event Groups” (georgiadogs.evenue.net). Fans also can purchase tickets at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex beginning one hour before the start of the first match each day (based on availability). Will call opens at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth and seniors.
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Credit: Henri Hollis / Henri.Hollis@ajc.com