Diaz returns 5 singles starters from last year's team which finished ranked #8 after falling to then #1 Oklahoma 4-2 in the NCAA quarterfinals. Georgia and Texas A&M shared the SEC regular season title after both went 11-1 (UGA won regular season match in Athens 4-1) however Texas A&M won the conference tournament when they beat Georgia 4-2 in the finals in a match that was held in College Station.
Diaz's original signing class was rated #1 by TRN however Tommy Paul opted to turn pro after winning the French Open Juniors and 2 ITF Futures. Even without Paul it's still a very good class with Walker Duncan and Emil Reinberg both Top 6 TRN Blue Chips. Diaz also made a late signing to the class with Jan Zielinski set to join the team in January.
Austin Smith (Sr) and Wayne Montgomery (Soph) will most likely split time again at #1 and #2 after combining to go 30-10 in dual-match play last season. Both guys were at their best when playing at #2 with Montgomery going 8-0 while Smith went 9-3. Montgomery started 15 matches at #1 going 5-4 with 6 others that didn't finish while Smith started 11 matches at #1 going 5-3 with 3 others that didn't finish. Both had good fall sessions with Montgomery beating 4 ranked players including #1 Axel Alvarez while Smith beat 3 ranked players. Smith and his doubles partner Ben Wagland had plenty of success winning the consolation draw at the ITA All-Americans and the main draw at the Southern Intercollegiates. Montgomery recently had his meniscus removed from his left knee but he expects to be 100% for the start of the dual-match season.
It'll be interesting to see who plays at the #3 through #6 spots because most of the guys are fairly close in level. I think Paul Oosterbaan (RSoph) will be a good candidate to play at #3. Oosterbaan went 13-4 (1-3 vs. ranked) last season with all but 2 of those results coming at #6 but he stepped up his game considerably this fall by beating 4 ranked players and also recently beat former Kentucky #1 Eric Quigley at the $20K Queen City Classic.
Walker Duncan (Fr) and Nick Wood (Sr) will be in the mix for the #4 and #5 spots. Duncan had a team high 14 wins this fall including 3 over ranked opponents. He played his way into the main draw at the ITA All-Americans by winning 3 matches in 3 days and also won his opening round match over #90 William Bushamuka (KY). Duncan played 5 matches this fall that finished 7-6 in the 3rd and he managed to win 4 of them with 3 of those coming in Tulsa so it appears that this freshman is a cool customer under pressure. Wood had 1 ranked win this fall but his best win came over SMU's Nate Lammons who went on to beat AJ Catanzariti and Guillermo Nunez. Wood went 17-6 last year including 11-2 at #5.
Ben Wagland (Sr) may end up playing higher than #6 but that's where I have him listed based on his and his teammates fall results. Wagland and his doubles partner Austin Smith won 12 doubles matches this fall but he couldn't get much going on the singles side with early exits in each of the 3 tournaments he played in. Last season Wagland went 10-7 in dual-match play with 14 of his 17 results coming at #4 singles. He also had another 11 matches go unfinished due to the SEC stopping after the clinch.
Emil Reinberg (Fr) will probably be the first off the bench though his fall results show he's capable of playing in the top 6.
Jan Zielinski will be joining the team in January and while his singles results on the ITF Futures Circuit were just ok his doubles results were exceptionable. I'd be surprised if he didn't find his way into the doubles lineup sooner rather later.
Andy Martinez (Soph) probably won't see any dual-match action in singles unless Georgia plays a match with a format that involves more than 6 singles matches.
Georgia went 20-9 in doubles last season with the ITA #1 doubles team of Austin Smith and Ben Wagland playing at #1 doubles. The other 2 doubles teams are still to be determined but I could see Montgomery and Oosterbaan teaming up again and maybe Duncan and Reinberg.
Below are each players fall college records (singles/doubles) along with a list of accomplishments. The ranking listed in front of a player is the ITA preseason ranking.
#17 Austin Smith (10-6/12-5) - won the doubles title at the Southern Intercollegiates (w Wagland), won the doubles consolation draw at the National Indoor Intercollegiates (w Wagland), made it to the doubles semifinals at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Wagland), made it to the singles quarterfinals at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional, beat #14 Ronnie Schneider at the Oracle/ITA Masters before falling to #18 Felipe Soares (Texas Tech) 7-5 in the 3rd, beat #49 Danny Valent (Vanderbilt) in the consolation draw at the ITA All-Americans, beat #57 Martin Redlicki (UCLA) at the National Indoor Intercollegiates
#16 Wayne Montgomery (8-3/4-4) - won the singles title at the Southern Intercollegiates by beating #24 Chris Eubanks (Georgia Tech), #43 Amerigo Contini (Virginia Tech), D2 #3 Alberto Barroso-Campos (St. Leo), and NAIA #1 Kevin Konfederak, beat #1 Axel Alvarez (Oklahoma) at the Oracle/ITA Masters before falling to #10 Dominik Koepfer (Tulane) 7-5 in the 3rd, made the doubles quarterfinals at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Reinberg)
Paul Oosterbaan (7-2/1-2) - beat #101 Nathan Rakitt (Georgia Tech) and #109 Edoardo Tessaro (Virginia Tech) in route to a semifinal finish at the Southern Intercollegiates, beat #74 Lucas Gerch (Oklahoma St) and #44 Stefan Lindmark (Ole Miss) in route to a semifinal finish at the Cajun Classic
Walker Duncan (14-7/6-4) - came through qualies at the ITA All-Americans and beat #90 William Bushamuka (Kentucky) in the 1st round before falling to #20 Tom Fawcett (Stanford) in the 2nd, went 3-1 in singles at the Bulldog Scramble, went 3-1 in singles at the Southern Intercollegiates with his only loss coming to #70 Joao Monteiro (Virginia Tech) 6-4 in the 3rd, made it to the Round of 16 in doubles at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Wood)
#104 Nick Wood (9-6/7-3) - made it to the Round of 16 in doubles at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Duncan), went 3-0 in doubles at the Bulldog Scramble (3 different partners), went 3-1 in singles at both the Bulldog Scramble and Southern Intercollegiates and picked up a ranked win over #54 Giammarco Micolani (Arkansas)
#111 Ben Wagland (4-3/12-5) - won the doubles title at the Southern Intercollegiates (w Smith), won the doubles consolation draw at the National Indoor Intercollegiates (w Smith), made the doubles semifinals at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Smith)
Emil Reinberg (8-6/8-4) - made the doubles quarterfinals at the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional (w Montgomery), went 3-1 in singles at the Cajun Classic with his only loss coming to #61 Max de Vroome (USC) in a 3rd set. Had solid wins over LSU's Boris Arias, Oklahoma State's Julian Cash, and Notre Dame's Eddy Covalschi.
Jan Zielinski (Joining team in January) - won the doubles title at the Poland F3 Futures, made the doubles finals at the Georgia F5 Futures, made the doubles semifinals at the Czech Republic F5 & F6, Poland F2 & F4, Egypt F 40 & F41, Belarus F4, and Great Britain F10 Futures, made the singles semifinals at the Egypt F41 Futures, made the singles quarterfinals at the Poland F4.
Andy Martinez (4-2/2-1) - made the Round of 16 at the Southern Intercollegiates
Projected Depth Chart:
1. Austin Smith
2. Wayne Montgomery
3. Paul Oosterbaan
4. Walker Duncan
5. Nick Wood
6. Ben Wagland
7. Jan Zielinski
8. Emil Reinberg
9. Andy Martinez
Players With A Current ATP Singles Ranking as of 12/28/15 - high in ( )
#1027 - Jan Zielinski (1027)
#1499 - Walker Duncan (1435)
Universal Tennis Rating as of 12/27/15:
14.39 - Austin Smith
14.32 - Wayne Montgomery
13.92 - Paul Oosterbaan
13.72 - Jan Zielinski
13.64 - Nick Wood
13.48 - Walker Duncan
13.31 - Emil Reinberg
13.30 - Ben Wagland
12.71 - Andy Martinez
Universal Tennis Rating as of 6/3/15
14.41 - Wayne Montgomery
14.30 - Austin Smith
13.91 - Nick Wood
13.75 - Paul Oosterbaan
13.66 - Walker Duncan
13.46 - Ben Wagland
12.99 - Emil Reinberg
12.83 - Andy Martinez
**didn't make note of Zielinski's back in June
Peak ITF Junior Ranking:
#7 - Wayne Montgomery
#10 - Ben Wagland
#25 - Jan Zielinski
#44 - Emil Reinberg
#203 - Walker Duncan
#258 - Austin Smith
#328 - Paul Oosterbaan
#521 - Nick Wood
TennisRecruiting.Net Star Rating/High Ranking (Americans Only)
Blue Chip #2 - Walker Duncan
Blue Chip #4 - Austin Smith
Blue Chip #4 - Paul Oosterbaan
Blue Chip #4 - Nick Wood
Blue Chip #6 - Emil Reinberg
4-star #68 - Andy Martinez
TRN Yearly Recruiting Rankings:
2015 - #1 (Duncan, Reinberg - Paul turned pro)
2014 - #2 (Montgomery, Oosterbaan, Martinez, Bertran - transferred to USF)
2013 - no new recruits
2012 - #7 (Smith, Wagland, Wood)
2016-17 Recruiting Class:
Nathan Ponwith - Scottsdale, AZ - TRN Blue Chip #1 - UTR 13.77
Robert Loeb - Hilton Head Island, SC - TRN Blue Chip #6 - UTR 13.54
Alex Phillips - Peachtree City, GA - TRN Blue Chip #10 - UTR 13.23
Alex Diaz - Athens, GA - TRN 5-star #37 - UTR 13.03
Phillips joined the team in January but will redshirt
Georgia shouldn't have any problem during the Kick-Off Weekend but the following weekend they go to Los Angeles to play USC and UCLA in the Pac 12/SEC Showdown. Both are winnable matches but neither will be easy and a split may be the most likely result. After hosting Georgia Tech they go to Charlottesville for the National Team Indoors with Virginia the favorites on their home courts. Georgia hosts Ohio State in the middle of the season in what will likely be a top 10 showdown. Georgia has some tough road matches in SEC play as they go to South Carolina, Texas A&M, LSU, and Ole Miss while Alabama and Florida come to Athens.
- Returning singles starters: Wayne Mongtomery (1), Austin Smith (2), Ben Wagland (4), Nick Wood (5), Paul Oosterbaan (6)
- Departing singles starters: Nathan Pasha (3)
- Returning doubles starters: Smith/Wagland (1), Montgomery (2), Oosterbaan (3)
- Departing doubles starters: Pasha (2), Diaz (3)
- Returning depth: Andy Martinez
- Departing depth: Eric Diaz, Peter Bertran (transferred to South Florida)
Georgia gave #1 Oklahoma a tough match in the NCAA quarterfinals but the Sooners were too strong in several spots and won it 4-2 - my recap with video clips.