It’s Georgia-Ohio State again, this time in tennis

Bulldogs, Buckeyes to meet in quarterfinals of NCAA men’s championships
Georgia tennis players Thomas Paulsell (L), and Ethan Quinn celebrate winning n NCAA tournament match against Oklahoma in the second round May 7 at UGA's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. (Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Georgia tennis players Thomas Paulsell (L), and Ethan Quinn celebrate winning n NCAA tournament match against Oklahoma in the second round May 7 at UGA's Dan Magill Tennis Complex. (Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

ATHENS — Getting back to the NCAA Tournament and Georgia’s proud tennis tradition wasn’t looking too good In January when the Bulldogs got off to a 5-5 start. Yet there they are, right where they always seem to get, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals.

Seeded sixth, Georgia (22-6) will face No. 3 Ohio State (32-2) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the USTA National Tennis Campus in Lake Nona, Florida. The match will be livestreamed and can be accessed through the website. There also is a live broadcast scheduled for the “Cracked Racquets” YouTube site.

It’s the 28th time Georgia has reached the quarterfinals under Diaz, but only the second time since 2017. Getting back this year was a long, hard road for the Bulldogs, who are in their 35th under coach Manny Diaz.

“It’s been a tremendous journey for our guys,” Diaz said during the pre-match press conference Tuesday. “We’ve got four fifth-year seniors who decided to make this last year their best one, and it has been.”

It has been for a freshman, as well. Ethan Quinn is the Bulldogs’ No. 1 singles player, and he’s a budding star. The 6-foot-4 resident of Fresno, California, enters the team championships with a 27-10 record and No. 2 national ranking.

His season, too, got off to a sluggish start.

“We’ve shown a lot of resilience just to be able to bounce back, a lot of resolve,” Quinn said. “The coaches were especially helpful to me personally. I had a lot of meetings with them, just me and them kind of talking through specific matches, specific moments, things outside the court as well that may have been an impact. But once we were able to handle those feelings and thoughts, we were able to excel.”

Excel may not be strong enough a word. The Bulldogs were rolling for a good long while, logging an undefeated run through conference play to record the program’s 32nd SEC championship. It looked like their perfect run would continue until Kentucky came from behind in the SEC tournament final for a 4-3 victory.

Since then, it has been fairly stress free to reach Elite Eight. Georgia has rolled through Florida Gulf Coast (4-0), Oklahoma (4-1) and Harvard (4-2) to get to the Buckeyes.

Georgia enters the match feeling some good vibes. The Bulldogs’ side of the bracket now perfectly matches the one the football team negotiated on the way to its second consecutive national championship, with Michigan and TCU the other teams on that side.

“We’re here now, and we’re looking forward to what’s to come,” Quinn said.

The Georgia women’s team is in the quarterfinals, too. The Lady Dogs are ranked No. 3 and seeded fourth and are set to face No. 5 Michigan at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s the final season for coach Jeff Wallace, who announced his retirement earlier this month after 38 years at the helm. Longtime associate coach Drake Bernstein was appointed to succeed Wallace.

Generally, since the NCAA merged the men’s and women’s championships in 2006, both UGA squads find themselves in the same location often during the postseason. The Bulldogs find it comforting as the athletes are close and always make a point of being in the crowd to cheer on their classmates.

“I’m personally close to Lea Ma and Dasha (Vidmanova),” Quinn said. “They’re both highly ranked, and every time the rankings come around, we always joke around about who’s ranked higher. Having that relationship definitely pushes each other to be the best.”

The NCAAs are being held on the USTA’s vast grounds in Central Florida for the third time since 2019. In fact, it’s quite the busy venue this week as it is playing host to the Divisions I, II and III championships simultaneously for men and women.

“This is a place that can handle it,” Diaz said of the USTA campus, which features more than 100 courts across 64 acres outside of Orlando. “It’s been very welcoming and exciting. It’s a great experience for our student-athletes not only with the other divisions going on, but seeing men and women in the same spot is great.”

Most coaches agree, however, that UGA’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex remains the greatest venue for the NCAA Championships. The event – which has been played on UGA’s campus 32 times – returns in 2026 after what we be then a nine-year hiatus.

Georgia is in the midst of a multi-million dollar construction project that will give it a new six-court indoor facility. That became necessary to host the championships several years back.

For the now, though, the Bulldogs are focused firmly only on the task at hand.

“We’re excited,” Diaz said. “We’ve made a lot of the progress, shown resolve, and our quality of play throughout the season has been strong. Everybody just had to check in at the door and decide that our best tennis was ahead.”