KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With his team locked in a 3-3 battle with No. 5 seed Mississippi State, 2017 Southeastern Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Emil Reinberg battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the second-set tiebreaker to give the Georgia men's tennis program its 10th SEC tournament title.
The 4-3 win over Mississippi State represents the Bulldogs' first SEC tourney championship since 2013. Overall, Georgia (18-7 overall) has now won 41 SEC championships, a number that includes 31 regular season and 10 tournament crowns. Under Diaz, Georgia has won 28 titles in 29 seasons.
Reinberg, who went 3-0 in singles and 2-1 doubles for the tournament, delivered the clincher in a team match that lasted over three hours at Barksdale Stadium. Joining the Atlanta native on the 2017 SEC All-Tournament Team is Wayne Montgomery.
"At Georgia, it is all about the team and not the individual," Reinberg said. "We just play for each other and that was obvious this weekend. I am always bound to go three sets but I really wanted to keep it in that second set, and I was able to do that. Again, it's not about me, its about this team, and I am so fortunate to be a part of this program."
MSU looked strong on the doubles courts, rolling out to a 6-1 win at the No. 3 court. The Bulldog tandem of Montgomery and Walker Duncan went down a break at 3-2, before battling back for a 6-3 win against Mississippi State's Mate Cutura and Vaughn Hunter.
After a spilt at courts two and three, the doubles point came down to No. 1, where UGA's second-ranked duo was locked in a 5-5 match with MSU's ninth-ranked team of Niclas Braun and Trevor Foshey. Braun and Foshey broke Georgia at 5-5 and went on for the 7-5 win to give MSU an early 1-0 advantage.
"We knew this was going to be a tough match, beginning with doubles," Diaz said. "Our team had to battle through two very physical matches the last two days, and I am so proud of how they responded. We are a young team that has matured so much since January. We are banged up but showed so much resiliency to win this tournament. I could not be more proud of these guys."
The 1-0 lead for MSU after doubles disappeared thanks to four first-set wins by Georgia. Jan Zielinski continued his torrid pace through the SEC Tournament with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Niclaus Braun at court No. 4 to even up the match at 1-1.
Oosterabaan, who has battled injury all season long, could not hang on at No. 6 as he fell to Simon Baudry, 6-2, 6-3, to give MSU an early 2-1 lead.
Duncan and Montgomery then delivered back-to-back wins to put their team up for the first time. Duncan won his match, 6-3, 7-6 (4), before Montgomery rallied back from a first-set loss to take a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory at the No. 2 court.
Following a Ponwith loss at No. 1, the match came down to Reinberg, who delivered in the clutch and gave Georgia the tournament title.
Next up, the NCAA selection show will take place on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. The 2017 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships will take place May 18-29 in Athens, following first and second round action from May 12-13.
Tennis Match Results Mississippi State vs Georgia April 30, 2017 at Knoxville, Tenn. (Barksdale Stadium)
Georgia 4, Mississippi State 3
Singles Results 1. #3 Nuno Borges (MSU) def. #49 Nathan Ponwith (UGA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 2. #31 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. Mate Cutura (MSU) 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 3. #61 Emil Reinberg (UGA) def. #111 Strahinja Rakic (MSU) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6) 4. Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. Niclas Braun (MSU) 6-2, 6-3 5. Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Giovanni Oradini (MSU) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) 6. Simon Baudry (MSU) def. Paul Oosterbaan (UGA) 6-2, 6-3
Doubles Results 1. #9 Niclas Braun/Trevor Foshey (MSU) def. #2 Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) 7-5 2. Wayne Montgomery/Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Mate Cutura/Vaughn Hunter (MSU) 6-3 3. Nuno Borges/Strahinja Rakic (MSU) def. Paul Oosterbaan/Emil Reinberg (UGA) 6-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (4,6,5,2,1,3)