• May 5, 2015
    Welcome!
    |
    ||
    Logout|My Dashboard

Diverse group of Georgia tennis freshmen have one goal: win some championships - The Red and Black : Sports

Diverse group of Georgia tennis freshmen have one goal: win some championships

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 2:53 pm, Mon Sep 10, 2012.

They may be young, but the Georgia men's tennis freshmen are thinking about a championship. 

“I think its everyone’s goal to win a National Championship,” said Austin Smith, a freshman tennis player from Johns Creek. 

Marco Nunez, from Monterey, Mexico, had a similar focus.

“We all want to get fitter and win the SEC and National Championships,” Nunez added.   

The third member of the 2012 freshmen class, Ben Wagland of Sydney, Australia, said that the decision to arrive at Georgia was "an easy choice" due to the program’s past success.

“I wanted to come somewhere with a good tennis program and good coaches," Wagland said. "Georgia’s always been in the top five for the past five or six years."

The freshmen might have lofty expectations, but they've already found success in the amateur levels.

Wagland started playing tennis at the age of six with his brother in their backyard. He later began working with former World No. 1 and fellow Aussie, John Newcombe — a routine that has paid-off on the court.

"[Australia] won the 14-and-under World Championships in the Czech Republic and that was the first time that Australia had won it,” Wagland said. "[I] recently reached the Australian Open Doubles Final for the Juniors.”

Nunez has made the finals for the Pan-American Doubles Championships, in addition to winning tournaments in Brazil and New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Smith was one of the top players in the U.S.

“My dad was my coach from up until when I was 14 or 15," Smith said. "I’ve won two Golden Balls at 14’s. I reached the top 10 in the country last year in 18’s.” 

All three freshmen were homeschooled and have been adjusting to the rigors of college life.

“I’m adjusting from homeschooling to full time classes and then training afterwards,” Wagland said. “There’s not much spare time during the week.”

Smith added that he’s busier than before, but that he enjoys the transition.

“I’m getting used to the classroom setting,” Smith said. "It’s a lot busier, but I like it here and I’m enjoying it all.”

But the biggest point of contention between the three is in their favorite players.

Wagland said his favorite player was Rafael Nadal, while Smith listed both Andy Murray and Nadal.

Nunez chose Martin Del Potro and Fernando Verdasco instead.

But all three freshmen agreed it was an easy decision to come to Georgia.

“When I was in Florida, I asked [about] which university I should go to before going professional and [my coaches] told me Georgia” Said Nunez,. "They have the best program, the best facilities in the whole country and the best coaches.”

Smith, who grew up a Georgia fan, said that Georgia was always on his mind.

“I didn’t even visit any other colleges,” Smith said. "I visited [Georgia] and loved the coaches, loved the team, loved the facilities. It was a real easy decision for me.”

The trio mentioned that they were anticipating upcoming matches against the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida.

“I’m looking forward to playing Tennessee in our first big match of the year,” Smith said. "There’s an Australian on their team, so there’s a bit of a rivalry going on and I wouldn’t want to lose to him.”

Nunez mentioned that he was excited to play Kentucky, the only team to defeat Georgia in regular season SEC play last season. Nunez and Smith both agreed that they are intent on taking down SEC rival Florida.

“I’m probably looking forward to [Florida] most," Smith said.  “They’re probably our biggest rival in every sport at Georgia.”

While they may be anticipating matches against rivals, eyeing post-season success and transitioning to life as a college student, Nunez said that they were “just happy to be here.”

Georgia will play in its first tournament of the year with the Southern Intercollegiate Championships, which will be held in Athens from Sept. 7-10.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.