AUBURN, Ala. -- Georgia claimed the 2014 Southeastern Conference regular-season championship outright with a 4-0 shutout of No. 29 Auburn on Sunday afternoon at AU’s Yarbrough Tennis Center. The Bulldogs had clinched at least a share of the title Friday night at Alabama.
Georgia concludes the regular season with an overall record of 16-6 and 11-1 in conference action. The team will head into next week’s SEC tournament in Nashville as the No. 1 seed.
Georgia has now won a league-leading 37 SEC championships, 28 of which are regular-season crowns. It is the 24th SEC title for head coach Manuel Diaz in his 26 seasons. Diaz won his 600th career match on Friday night against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, and secured No. 601 on Sunday. The Bulldogs have won four consecutive matches by 4-0 scores.
“I thought the guys played extremely well,” Diaz said. “Auburn played us tough in both singles and doubles, but the guys stayed right with them and we were able to close out a great regular season with a win here [Sunday].”
The Bulldogs won the doubles point for the 17th time in 21 opportunities, snagging 8-5 wins at court Nos. 1 and 2. First off was the No. 2 team of Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux, who defeated Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Ollert. They were followed by 12th-ranked Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland, as they defeated No. 60 Daniel Cochrane and Oliver Plaskett to give Georgia the 1-0 lead and in need of just three singles win.
After winning all six first sets in singles, Georgia took a 2-0 lead against Auburn as No. 18 Austin Smith posted a 6-4, 6-1 win against 71st-ranked Ollert at No. 1. It became a 3-0 lead for the visitors as 32nd-ranked Pasha beat No. 61 Cochrane 6-2, 6-3 at No. 2, and Nick Wood furnished the clinch at No. 5 as he beat Dante Saleh 6-2, 6-2 to seal it. It was the third clinch of the season for him.
The Bulldogs will await their SEC quarterfinal opponent, with the bracket expected to be released by the conference office Sunday evening.
“We have so much to play for in this tournament,” Diaz said. “From the automatic NCAA bid and just what we can do for ourselves going forward, it will be a feather in the cap for whoever can win this. We will enjoy a day off getting rested, before we start working on a few things that can make us a little better. Every match there will be a huge challenge and a great opportunity for us and everybody else. We’re going to go into the tournament with a fresh attitude -- everybody starts over again at 0-0 -- so hopefully we can put three matches together.”
Georgia has won the last two SEC tournament titles and a total of nine.