Georgia’s Ethan Quinn wins NCAA tennis championship

Redshirt freshman from California captures school’s fifth singles crown

Credit: Manuela Davies/USTA

Credit: Manuela Davies/USTA

ATHENS — Rallies are a part of tennis, but one would be hard-pressed to find a greater comeback than the one executed Saturday by Georgia’s Ethan Quinn in Lake Nona, Florida.

Down four match points in the second set, the Bulldogs’ redshirt freshman from Fresno, California, came roaring back against No. 8 Ondrej Styler to win 7-5 in a tiebreaker. After brief exchange of service breaks in the third set, the rest of the match was all Quinn. He cruised to a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory to become the 2023 NCAA men’s singles champion.

Asked what pulled him through that challenging stretch, Quinn credited teammate Trent Byrde for some offering some inspirational advice.

“At that point, Trent stood up and gave me some words of encouragement,” Quinn said with a chuckle. “Basically, he said, ‘it’s not over ‘til it’s over.’ I’d gotten a couple of breaks on (Styler) earlier. So, I just trusted my game plan, dug out a few returns and was able to break back and win that set.”

Said coach Manuel Diaz: “He gave himself a chance. Ethan played with a little bit more freedom and somehow earned one point, then the other. ... I’m super proud of him for showing the grit and continuing to fight the good fight. He earned a great win for himself and our program.”

Quinn didn’t have much of a chance to celebrate. After posing for the championship pictures on the court and holding a quick press conference at the USTA Tennis Facility, he visited briefly with his parents and friends. Then, Quinn, Byrde and his coaches were whisked away to make a commercial flight back to home.

“I just got some Auntie Anne’s Cinammon Bites, so that’s my little unhealthy celebration right now,” quipped Quinn, who said he’d be joining teammates for a dinner out in Athens later Saturday night.

Quinn’s singles title is Georgia’s first in 21 years (though there was no tournament in 2020) and the fifth in school history. He’s only the third individual to do it for UGA, joining Matias Boeker (2001-02) and Mikael Pernfors (1984-85), each of whom won back-to-back crowns.

Georgia players have played for the prestigious outdoor singles title 10 times. Quinn was the seventh individual to reach the finals and the first since John Isner did so in 2007 as the field’s top seed.

Most impressively, Quinn becomes only the fourth freshman to be crowned singles national champion. He joins Stanford’s John McEnroe (1978), Southern Cal’s Cecil Mamiit (1996) and Mississippi’s Devin Britton (2009).

“Since I came to college, my goal was to win the singles championship,” Quinn said. “To join that list of guys is amazing. I hope my career can be as good as theirs was.”

For now, Quinn said he plans to come back to play another year for Georgia.

“We’ll see how the summer and fall goes, but right now that’s the plan,” Quinn said.

Quinn’s late-season run was one for the ages. With Saturday’s victory against Styler, a senior from the Czech Republic, No. 2-ranked Quinn now has won 17 consecutive singles matches and is 22-1 dating to Feb. 19. His win over the eighth-ranked Styler moves Quinn to 34-10 on the year and 26-7 against ranked opponents. It was only the second singles loss of the spring for Styler (22-2), who ends the year 33-5 overall. The right-hander also defeated Virginia’s No. 9-ranked Chris Rodesch in the semifinals (2-6, 6-2, 6-4).

Quinn’s championship came 40 years and four days after Georgia crowned its first NCAA champions. Allen Miller and Ola Malmqvist won the NCAA doubles title in 1983.