Sunday, February 17, 2019

Accolades Pour In for ITA Indoor National Champion Dawgs

UGA Sports Communications

A day after the Georgia women’s tennis team grabbed the program’s sixth national championship by winning the 2019 ITA National Team Indoor Championship, recognition's came streaming in with SEC weekly honors, and new top-team rankings.

The Southeastern Conference weekly honors was a Dawg sweep with sophomore Katarina Jokic taking Player of the Week and Meg Kowalski earning Freshman of the Week. Both student athletes went 4-0 in singles and played together in doubles, going 2-0. It marks the first such SEC award for each student-athlete. Jokic earned two SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season.

Kowalski, of Chicago, clinched Georgia’s first round 4-2 win over then-No. 14 N.C. State, while Jokic, of Novi Grad, Bosnia, clinched the semifinal 4-3 victory versus the then No. 1-ranked and defending NCAA Champion Stanford team, and then clinched the 4-3 championship against then No. 3 North Carolina, the reigning ITA Indoors Champions.

Diving deeper, Kowalski, ranked No. 84 in ITA rankings, also grabbed the best singles and doubles ranked wins of her young career, beating Stanford’s No. 44 Emma Higuchi, a two-time All-Pac 12 junior, and teaming up with Jokic to down the Cardinal No. 21 duo of Lord/Madurawe. She is a perfect 11-0 including two of her three total ranked wins coming this past week.

Jokic, playing No. 1 singles and ranked No. 2 nationally, improved to 16-2 overall with all four three-set singles wins over top-25 ranked opponents this past week. Like Kowalski, she also notched the highest-ranked singles win of her career when she defeated Vanderbilt’s No. 3-ranked Fernanda Contreras, a three-time All-SEC senior.

Both national team rankings, ITA and Tennis Channel/USTA, boosted Georgia to the top of poll. In the ITA team rankings, the Dawgs rose from No. 5 to the top spot with the rest of the top-5 consisting of UNC, Stanford, Duke, and Vanderbilt. The last time Georgia was ranked No. 1 in ITA was May 1, 2014 – that year the Dawgs lost in the NCAA quarterfinals and finished No. 4 in the final rankings. The last time Georgia finished the season No. 1 was in 2000 after the Dawgs won their second NCAA title. The ITA will release the next additional of individual singles and doubles rankings on Feb. 19.

The Tennis Channel/USTA College Tennis Top 25 Rankings announced its new rankings in the morning with the Dawgs moving up three spots to the No. 1 position – the highest the Dawgs have been in the rankings’ three-year existence. The Tennis Channel and USTA became partners in mid-December of 2018 with an emphasis on enhancing collegiate tennis.

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