Reigning National Champ Georgia Dominates Day 1 @USTA @TennisOnCampus Fall Invitational
Bulldogs Post Convincing Wins To Advance to Gold Bracket
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 11, 2013 – A berth in the 2014 National Championships already secure by virtue of winning the title last spring, the Georgia Bulldogs find themselves playing for mere bragging rights this weekend at the fourth annual USTA Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational being played at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.
“We know we’re in so it’s just about putting on a solid performance this weekend,” said Georgia captain Gordon Lucas. “There are a lot of good teams here. I don’t want to sound too confident but we brought our best team and hopefully we’ll win it all come Sunday.”
Thirty-two schools from eight different USTA Sections battled on Friday in pool play, which continues Saturday with the semifinals and finals taking place on Sunday. The winner and runner-up receive an automatic qualifying bid into the TOC National Championships to be played in Surprise, Ariz., next April. If Georgia makes the final on Sunday, the winner of the third and fourth-place match will get the automatic bid.
According to Lucas, Georgia didn’t bring its best players to last year’s Fall Invite and finished 17th place, winning the Silver Bracket. Four players competing this weekend were on the winning national title team, including Lucas, Jillian Estes, Marissa Pulido and Natalie Kieta.
Georgia posted wins on Friday over Wake Forest (30-3), N.C. State (27-18) and Colorado School of Mines (30-13). Also having a solid day on Friday was national champion runner-up Florida, which posted two easy wins in Pool 5 play over Furman (28-8) and Ohio State (30-17). The Gators will face Vanderbilt in the final round of pool play on Saturday at 8 a.m.
Last year’s Fall Invitational winner Duke won Pool 7 with three victories against James Madison (30-15), Georgia State (27-19) and Pennsylvania (29-16).
“This is the strongest field we’ve ever had,” said Elaine Wingfield, an on-site director at the Fall Invite who also serves as the director of competition for World Team Tennis. “We didn’t have any ‘B’ teams this year and had a waiting list of 20 schools that wanted to get in. It just shows the growth and strength of this event.”
ENJOYING THE VIEW: University of Arizona grad student and captain Taylor Allin said the TOC Fall Invite gives him and has five team members a welcome trip to the East Coast.
“Just the weather and the ocean, it’s beautiful here,” Allin said. “We don’t get to see many trees in Arizona so it’s nice to be able to get out of Arizona for a weekend. Plus we get to play on the clay. I haven’t played on clay since I was 12 years old.”
Arizona traveled the farthest of any school to play in the event, followed by the Colorado School of Mines.
Allin didn’t play Tennis On Campus as an undergrad, but is hooked now. “It’s really fun. We all get along and none of us would have seen Hilton Head Island if not for the tournament. We’ve been to Illinois and Wisconsin for matches.”
#SHORTHANDED: After Temple University unexpectedly pulled out of the event on Thursday, Wake Forest University got the call that they were one of four first alternates to get into the event if they wanted to compete. The first to email organizers back, the 30-player club team scrambled to fill a team in just a few hours, and during Fall Break.
That also meant that the four Wake Forest players – two males and two females – who ended up making the trip would have to play in every match. After being notified at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Chris Ford, Carrie Dajani, Molly Dutmers and Alex Spancake piled into a car by 6 p.m. and drove six hours to Hilton Head Island.
After a morning loss to Georgia, club co-captain vice president Chris Ford was asked if his team had a Twitter account. “I’ll only give it to you if you use #numericalunderdogs when reporting our score,” he quipped.
You can follow the Wake Forest team on Twitter @WFUClubTennis.