May 22, 2010

ATHENS, Ga. --- The 11th-seeded Georgia men's tennis team upset the No. 6 seed Florida 4-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tennis Championships Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The Bulldogs (20-8) will move on to face the winner of Texas and Oklahoma Sunday at 5 p.m.

"We are extremely pleased with our guys," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "We knew today would be a great challenge and we had to play our best. The guys were energized from being at home, and when you play in front of fans you want to play better. The doubles point was great, and then all of our singles were terrific. We fought hard and I am really proud of our guys. We knew we had a good chance and we just played a little better in the important parts."

Georgia avenged two earlier losses to the Gators this year while reaching the quarterfinals for the second straight season. The Bulldogs have reached the national championship match in three of the last four seasons.

Georgia claimed the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. Florida first had the upper hand as Bob Van Overbeek and Dan Cash topped Drake Bernstein and Will Oliver, 8-3. Shortly following, however, the 32nd-ranked tandem of Javier Garrapiz and Nate Schnugg finished off an 8-3 victory over the eighth-ranked tandem of Antoine Benneteau and Alex Lacroix at No. 1. The clincher came at No. 2 where Jamie Hunt and Christian Vitulli claimed an 8-5 victory over the No. 68 pair of Joey Burkhardt and Sekou Bangoura, Jr.

Florida, though, bounced back by winning the first set on four singles courts. The Gators tied it at No. 6 where Nassim Slilam beat Will Reynolds, 6-4, 6-0. Bernstein was one of the four who dropped the first set, but came back to beat Overbeek at No. 4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

"I decided to take a step back, and then fought hard for a couple points," Bernstein said. "Coach and Will taught me to stay on my court, and not get distracted by the scoreboard. I played some of the best tennis of my life tonight."

The Gators (21-5) tied the match again as Bangoura beat Vitulli at No. 5, 6-3, 6-4. Georgia then answered back at No. 2 where No. 75 Schnugg beat No. 110 Burkhardt, 7-5, 6-4. That set the stage for No. 32 Garrapiz at No. 1, who outlasted seventh-ranked Lacroix, 6-4, 7-6(5).

At No. 4, Hunt's match was suspended when he led in the third set, 3-6, 1-6, 4-0.

Diaz also reached the 20-win plateau for the 18th time in his 22-year career.