UGA Club Tennis Overcomes the Odds

  • By Crews Enochs
  • April 21, 2013
  • Comments Off on UGA Club Tennis Overcomes the Odds

By MATTHEW PEARCE – published Saturday, April 20, 2013

The University of Georgia has a long and storied tennis history beginning with the legacy built by Dan Magill to both men’s and women’s varsity teams winning regular season Southeastern Conference Championships. However, success on the tennis court has now spread from the varsity level to the Georgia club tennis team.

The club team secured the 2013 Tennis on Campus National Championship on April 13, defeating Florida 26-24 in a final the athletes said they never dreamed of reaching.

“Coming into the season, this was my one year to be captain and we haven’t actually qualified for the national championship in my time here at least. So my main goal was to get us there,” team captain Scott Slezak said. “We finished fifth in our own region and barely squeaked in, but once we got there we somehow managed to keep winning and came home with the title.”

Club tennis is played under World Team Tennis Rules with matches consisting of one men’s and women’s singles and doubles game and a mixed doubles game. The national championship tournament layout features 64 teams divided into 16 four-team pools. After pool play, the teams qualify for one of four brackets: gold, silver, bronze and copper.

The first surprise Georgia sprung at the tournament was qualifying for the gold bracket.

“It was definitely a surprise, they didn’t have official rankings for us but I think we were probably 25 or 30 out of 64 teams,” said Meg Inscoe, who played integral part of the championship run. “We were just hoping to get out of pool play. We were hoping to just win maybe two matches in our pool and get into the bronze maybe silver bracket. We ended up winning those three matches which put us into the gold bracket.”

After surprising themselves with qualifying for the gold bracket and then defeating Oklahoma in next round, Georgia defeated defending national champions Cal-Berkeley in the quarterfinals.

“We honestly didn’t expect to win that match, we just wanted to have fun and play like we had nothing to lose,” Inscoe said. “Everybody played really well and when you play a better team it steps up your game. We came out on top by one game, it was very surprising for them and for us that we pulled it out.”

The 21-20 quarterfinal victory over the defending champion came courtesy of one of the unique features of the World Team Tennis scoring system. The team trailing at the end of the mixed doubles point is allowed an opportunity to win the match by consecutively winning the number of games they are trailing by. After pulling level at 20-20, Inscoe and doubles partner Gordon Lucas won the decisive point.

“After the match, our team rushed the court, our captain Scott was crying. It was a huge win. We were all just in disbelief, their team was just standing here stunned but it was a huge ego boost and morale boost,” Inscoe said. “After that, we actually thought, since we beat the No. 1 team, we at least had a shot at winning the next round, and each round after that we just continued to gain confidence. In each match, instead of thinking we don’t want to embarrass ourselves, we actually went in thinking we could win this.”

After shocking Cal-Berkeley in the quarterfinals, Georgia defeated 2011 champion UCLA 26-20 in the semifinal. The Bulldogs met a familiar foe in the final with the Florida standing between Georgia and it’s first club tennis national championship.

“At that point, we said we’ve made it to the finals, we didn’t want to get out hopes up because it’s devastating to lose if you put all your cards in,” Inscoe said “But at the same time we wanted to enjoy it while staying competitive. It was a very close match, we ended up winning 26-24 so again it came down to the final match and it really could have gone either way.”

The victory led to an outpouring of emotion with a classic storming of the court from the Georgia players.

Slezak believes that the victory could have far reaching effects on the club, something he has already begun seeing.

“It’s hard to say when your goal for the season is to qualify for nationals and you end up winning the whole thing it’s unbelievable,” Slezak said “Now I think it validates the club and shows us that we can play at the highest level. I really think it’s going to help spark the interest in the club. I’ve already seen more people at practice and seen people working on their own time and it’s only a few days removed from winning the title.”


Source – Athens Banner Herold


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