Georgia Gwinnett College won national titles in both men’s and women’s tennis in the spring, and the program will have a unique chance to continue to build a national reputation the weekend as four Grizzly players will participate at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships at Palmetto Tennis Center in Sumter, S.C.
Jordan Cox, who earned an automatic berth into the event by winning last month’s ITA South Regional, is the national No. 2 seed in the NAIA bracket. The sophomore is in his first competitive season with GGC, and he’s recorded a 6-1 record so far this fall with the only loss coming to Georgia’s Paul Oosterbaan. Cox is slated to take on Westmont’s Luke Whalen in the opening round, and No. 1 seed and defending Small College Champion Deni Zmak of Embry-Riddle is on the other side of the bracket.
Valeria Podda is the No. 2 seed for the women. A sophomore from the Netherlands, Podda earned an at-large bid after falling in the regional final to overall No. 1 seed Nour Abbes of Xavier of Louisiana. This will be the second tournament of the season for Podda, and she currently holds a 4-1 record. She is matched up with Indiana Wesleyan’s Katie Wilson in the first round.
In doubles, the team of Lachlan McPhee and Connor Clements claimed GGC’s first-ever doubles regional crown despite entering the event unseeded. They’ll have to be similarly impressive this weekend as they’ll start the tournament against the overall No. 1 duo of Embry-Riddle’s Zmak and Jaime Sanches-Canamares Rios. Zmak was part of the doubles champion team from last year and ultimately advanced to the second round of the premier ITA national event in Flushing, N.Y., after helping knock off a duo from UCLA.
The format for this weekend’s event will see eight NAIA participants in each draw. The winners of the NAIA portion will go on to face the winners from NCAA’s Division II and Division III as well as those from the NJCAA ranks to earn a berth into the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, where they will face the best players from Division I at the prestigious USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Play for all four Grizzlies began today and will continue through the weekend.