The Georgia men’s tennis team is set to compete in its most high-profile event of the fall season.
From October 5-8, the Bulldogs will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-America Championships in an event that will feature the nation’s highest ranked players.
Play begins this coming weekend, though, as pre-qualifying and qualifying rounds run from Saturday through Wednesday.
“It is one of the premier events in the fall so the guys always look forward to it,” Georgia associate head coach Jamie Hunt said.
“They like the opportunity to test themselves against the best competition in the country so I think they are all fired up.”
The Bulldogs head into this tournament after a strong showing at the Battle in the Bay Classic in San Francisco this past weekend.
Georgia sent four players to compete in the singles draw and three of them reached the semifinals before Wayne Montgomery defeated fellow Bulldog Nathan Ponwith in the final to win the tournament.
The momentum from that event gives the Bulldogs confidence as they head to Tulsa to take on the best competition around.
“We’ve gotten off to a strong start this fall, a lot of guys are playing well,” junior Walker Duncan said. “For us to go into this tournament with the same mindset to learn, compete out hardest, get opportunities for big wins and have a long week is what we are focused on.”
While some players will get an automatic berth in the main draw, others will have to work their way through the qualifying rounds to get to the main bracket.
And the motivation of getting to the marquee ranked match ups that the main draw can provide helps players in the qualifying rounds remain focused.
“This is where all of the ranked players are going to be so moving through the qualifying and into the main draw is a big goal of mine,” Duncan said. “And I will just take it one step at a time from there.”
Despite the high quality of opposition that the event will present, the Bulldogs are not putting too much pressure on themselves.
They view this tournament as a learning opportunity that does not count against the team, as the main team season does not begin until January.
“We’re looking to get better and peak in the spring,” Hunt said. “This is about improvement and making the most of our opportunities.”
But that does not mean that the Bulldogs are taking this chance for granted.
Considered one of the top teams in the nation with five players ranked in the ITA’s singles rankings, Georgia does hope to prove its status among the nation’s elite and to display a deep, talented roster against top-tier competition.
“I think we all know what we need to do in practice in order to be mentally prepared and physically prepared,” junior Emil Reinberg said.
“It’s a big tournament, it is really important. There are a lot of opportunities for ranked wins. Getting those matches in against really good players is important.”