The Georgia men's tennis team was composed of mainly young, unproven talent coming off a 14-11 overall record last year, with a 7-5 record in SEC play. Though these players were highly ranked internationally and successful in their junior careers, the team was not expected to do much more than the year before in what would be the rookie season for a majority of the starting lineup.
However, by the midway point of the season, it seemed as though nothing short of the nation’s top competition would be able to stop this team. With a record of 9-2, the Bulldogs were 3-0 in SEC play and had established a six-game win streak that included significant upsets against the likes of former No. 3-ranked Ohio State and No. 10 Tennessee.
Top contenders such as No. 4 Texas, who managed to narrowly edge out the Bulldogs by a score of 4-3 on Feb. 8, looked to be the only ones capable of taking down the young Georgia squad. Unfortunately, it was not a collegiate tennis team that stopped the Bulldogs from continuing their success, but rather the unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that took the world by storm and brought all sports leagues to an abrupt halt.
In future seasons, the Bulldogs will aim to improve on the young team’s success they’ve enjoyed this early on, in hopes that it will continue in their college careers. Here are The Red & Black’s postseason takeaways from the Georgia men’s tennis season.
Head coach Manuel Diaz reaches 709 wins
Georgia’s standout performances throughout the season included notable victories from younger players, including wins by sophomores Trent Bryde and Blake Croyder, along with Swedish freshman Erik Grevelius.
However, consistent doubles performances from senior Robert Loeb that primarily contributed to the success the Bulldogs saw during their season. Head coach Manuel Diaz managed to break former head coach Dan Magill’s record and finish with 709-career victories.
Diaz became the winningest coach in SEC history while leading a team whose entire lineup was made up of underclassmen, with the exception of Loeb.
Triumphant at home
Though the Bulldogs suffered only two losses on the road at South Carolina and Texas, it was the reigning success at home that defined their season. Henry Field Stadium finished its renovations just in time, and Georgia was able to achieve its most significant victories with a roaring crowd of Bulldog fans at the newly renovated courts.
The Bulldogs finished undefeated at home with a record of 7-0. Notable wins against top-10 teams in Ohio State and Tennessee shot their national ranking up from 35th to 10th.
The question for the Bulldogs is no longer if this young team can find success. Instead, it’s now how successful they will be in the coming seasons. Their future is bright, as the development of the younger players will be a key determinant in achieving their full potential.
Grevelius boasted a final overall record of 19 wins and eight losses. Fellow freshman Tyler Zink, out of Bradenton, Florida, also finished with over twice as many wins as he had losses at 9-4.
By next season, the return to the courts will have been long-awaited for the Bulldogs. Next season they will hope to continue their developments along with their winning streak.