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Georgia captures title at USTA/ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships

February 21, 2006 10:02 AM

Second-seeded Georgia beat No. 4 Pepperdine 4-0 Monday in the championship match at the United States Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Men's Team Indoor Championships. The University of Washington hosted this year's championships at its Lloyd Nordstrom Tennis Center.

Georgia (8-0) was playing in its fifth USTA/ITA final and captures its first title. The title is also the first ever for a Southeastern Conference school. Pepperdine (13-1) was trying for its third crown and first since 1986.

"We've been in the finals I don't know how many times before and not won it," UGA coach Manuel Diaz said. "This is the only national event we've never won as a program so this is a great tribute to our squad. This is a big deal for us."

Georgia won the doubles point in today's final and got wins in singles from John Isner at the No. 2 position, Strahinja Bobusic at No. 4 and Colin Purcell at No. 6. Purcell beat Omar Altmann 6-2, 6-3, Isner beat Pedro Rico 6-4, 6-2 and Bobusic clinched the match when he topped Richard Johnson 6-3, 7-5. (The three remaining matches were stopped once UGA clinched.)

Isner and Bobusic both went 3-0 for the Bulldogs this week in singles.

After splitting wins at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in doubles, UGA's Matic Omerzel and Luis Flores edged Johnson and Altmann at the No. 3 position, 9-8 (1), to give the Bulldogs two of the three matches and the 1-0 lead heading into singles.

"The score does not indicate one iota how tough, and gritty, and talented, and well-coached the Pepperdine team is," UGA's Diaz said. "None at all. I've been on the other side where we've been beat in the finals 4-0 and we were really, really in the match. This was in no way a typical 4-0 match."

Georgia beat No. 15 seed Colorado in the opening round on Friday, No. 7 UCLA in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Illinois in last night's semifinals. Pepperdine had beat No. 13 Florida State, No. 5 Mississippi and No. 9 Duke in last night's semis.

Georgia is the tenth school to win the USTA-ITA crown since the tournament's inception in 1973. The Bulldogs also appeared in the final in 1982 (a loss to Pepperdine), 1994-95 and 1997.

Georgia will move up one spot to No. 1 in the new Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings when they are released on Wednesday. This will be the program's first No. 1 ranking since May 1, 2002.

The USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championship is collegiate tennis' premier indoor team tournament. It began in 1973 and each season offers a preview of the teams to beat at the season-ending NCAA Championships in May. Nine of the top 10 teams from the latest Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings highlight this year's field.

Also today, Duke University senior Jonathan Stokke received the USTA Sportsmanship. Stokke, a native of Chapel Hill, N.C., was chosen for this annual award by the 16 participating coaches for displaying outstanding sportsmanship and exemplifying the spirit of college tennis during the course of the tournament and throughout his career.

2006 USTA/ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championships
Order of finish:
Champion - Georgia
Runner-up - Pepperdine
T-3rd Place - Duke and Illinois
T-5th place - Mississippi and UCLA
T-7th place - Florida and Washington
T-9th place - Baylor and LSU
T-11th place - Arkansas and Florida State
T-13th place - Virginia and Penn
T-15th place - Colorado and South Carolina

Complete tournament results are available at www.gohuskies.com.




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