The University of Georgia punched its ticket to the 2019 Tennis On Campus National Championship after emerging victorious in the 48-team TOC Fall Invitational.
The Bulldogs defeated the University of Florida, 28-20, in the championship match to cap off a strong weekend at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C. that also included upsetting top-ranked University of Miami in the semifinals.
“It was really exciting,” said Georgia captain Anne Marcinkowski, a health promotion major from Johns Creek, Ga. “We weren’t entirely sure how this would go because we had a young team with a couple freshmen. We did a lot better than we expected.
“We were all really excited and pumped up to be in the final. The Florida team was really strong, but we had a lot of energy going into it and we were confident we could take them if we played the right lineup. It was just a matter of executing.”
Georgia advanced to the gold bracket with pool play wins over Clemson, Virginia Tech and Connecticut, the first of which was won by a 22-21 score line in the first match of the tournament. The Bulldogs then toppled 2018 Tennis On Campus national champions Ohio State, 26-19, in the round of 16 before beating Washington University, 27-16, to move on to the semifinals.
Georgia edged the top-seed University of Miami in the final four and then earned a spot at next spring’s Nationals with a victory over Florida in the championship match.
Georgia has now won its past three tournaments, including in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and at Kennesaw State, Ga.
“We are definitely on a roll,” Marcinkowski said. “We’re excited and we’re feeling strong. We have a great group of players and we are all really close. We definitely have a lot of fun bonding experiences and we’re excited for next semester.”
Georgia’s win is its second at the Fall Invitational. Marcinkowski and fellow senior Wilbur George were both on the team that won the club’s only other title in 2015. “ was my freshman year so that was exciting to win it as a freshman and as a senior,” Marcinkowski said.
For Florida, a run to the final gives the club plenty to build on. The Gators recorded dominant wins over North Caroline State’s ‘B’ team, Harvard and Pittsburgh in pool play and then upset both second-seeded Georgia Tech and third-ranked North Carolina State ‘A’.
Florida edged the Yellow Jackets, 22-21, and needed a super tiebreak to eliminate the Wolfpack, 23-22. But going to the well for a third time proved too much for captain Coley Hungate’s squad, which ran out of steam in the final match of the tournament.
“It was a great experience,” said Hungate, an economics and political science sophomore from Sarasota, Fla. “The level of competition at Tennis On Campus, and in club tennis around the country, is increasing pretty rapidly, so there are very good players. We’re pretty pleased finishing in second. We had an extremely tough draw. Every team we had to play ended up winning out after we beat them. Illinois finished seventh, Georgia Tech finished in fifth place and NC State ‘A’ finished third.
“We just hit a wall physically and that was where the margin [of victory] got exaggerated. But full credit to Georgia. We came up a little bit short, but it was an encouraging result. It’s definitely something we can build upon.”
The University of Georgia team is captained by Marcinkowski and includes George, Maya Karri, Ajla Dzin, Talya Cohen, Gray Wells, Calvin Chee and Crews Enochs.
The University of Florida squad is led by Hungate and includes Alberto Blesa Gonzalez, Andrew Makarov. Johann Rapp, Taylor Oliver, Paige Nicholson and Sarah Perkins.
The 2019 Tennis On Campus National Championship will be held at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz., April 11-13. Georgia will join the TOC Spring Invitational winners, defending national champions Ohio State, and 61 other collegiate club tennis teams from across the country.