ATHENS – Another NCAA Tournament, another Elite 8 appearance by the Georgia Bulldogs. Some things never change.
Coach Manny Diaz’s Bulldogs did it again on Saturday when they dispatched a game squad from Harvard 4-2 before an overflow crowd of 3,072 at Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
With the victory, the Bulldogs (23-6) advance to the national quarterfinals for the 27th time in 35 seasons under Diaz. Georgia will take on No. 3 Ohio State (31-2) on Thursday at the United States Tennis Association National Complex in Lake Nona, Fla.
UGA called for fans to “fill Magill” this weekend, and they certainly did on Saturday as the stands at Henry Feild Stadium were packed.
“How wonderful and incredible this atmosphere was,” Diaz said after the match. “We really owe this to our fans and our community for showing up. They provided the most incredible collegiate tennis experience for both of these teams and really brought out the best in both teams. Our guys had to play their hearts out. Harvard is an incredible team. This was a great college tennis match. We owe so much to our fans.”
For the second straight match, sophomore Miguel Perez Peña captured the clinching team point with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win over Harvard’s Steven Sun at No. 5 singles. Both Perez Peña and No. 4 Blake Croyder were at match point, but Perez Pena beat him to the bunch right before Croyder was to serve. It was Perez Pena’s sixth clinch of the season.
“I was trying to race Blake,” Perez Pena joked. “At the end of the day, I closed the match, but I would have been as happy if Blake had closed it out. Just happy for the team. It was fun to run to him at the end of the match as well.”
The Bulldogs captured the doubles point with wins from their Nos. 1 and 2 teams. Georgia then got quick two-set victories from No. 2-ranked Ethan Quinn over No. 37 Harris Walker at No. 1 and Teodor Giusca at No. 6. That’s when the attention of the overflow crowd shifted to “The Pit,” the lower-court area of the stadium complex where so many of Georgia’s championship matches seem to get clinched.
Diaz and associated head coach Jamie Hunt were busily working both ends of the stadium.
“It is not easy,” Diaz said. “It is hard to stay on your own court when you are like, ‘he has match point’ or ‘he is serving for the match.’ It requires extra effort for these guys to stay focused on what they can control. It was a great job by both of them because it is not easy.”
#6 Georgia 4, #11 Harvard 2
1. #6 Trent Bryde/Ethan Quinn (UGA) def. #62 Daniel Milavsky/Harris Walker (HAR) 7-6 (7-4)
2. Teodor Giusca/Philip Henning (UGA) def. Ronan Jachuck/Steven Sun (HAR) 6-3
3. von der Schulenberg/Alan Yim (HAR) def. Blake Croyder/Britton Johnston (UGA) 6-1
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1*
1. #2 Ethan Quinn (UGA) def. #37 Harris Walker (HAR) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
2. #35 von der Schulenberg (HAR) def. #19 Philip Henning (UGA) 6-2, 6-1
3. Daniel Milavsky (HAR) def. #113 Trent Bryde (UGA) 6-2, 6-4
4. #106 Blake Croyder (UGA) vs. Ronan Jachuck (HAR) 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 5-3, unfinished
5. Miguel Perez Pena (UGA) def. Steven Sun (HAR) 7-6 (8-6), 6-4
6. Teodor Giusca (UGA) def. Valdemar Pape (HAR) 6-4, 6-0
Order of finish: 2, 6, 3, 1, 5*
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