Georgia women's tennis was halted in the national title game by Texas A&M

The transition of leadership of the Georgia women's tennis program this season went as smoothly as could be expected.

The No. 7 seed Bulldogs made a strong postseason run under first-year coach Drake Bernstein, but fell in the championship game on Sunday night with a 4-1 loss to No. 13 seed Texas A&M in Stillwater, Oklahoma .

The Bulldogs reached the national final for the first time since 2019, but fell short of the program's first NCAA outdoor title since coach Jeff Wallace won its second in 2000, along with the one the Bulldogs won in 1994. It was the Aggies' first national title in program history.

Texas A&M lost all three previous games against Georgia this year, including the SEC Tournament final, but won on the grandest stage of them all in a game played indoors due to inclement weather during the doubleheader.

The Aggies took that point and then took control in singles, winning the first set on four of six. Georgia showed fight and won at No. 4, with Anastasia Lopata deciding 6-4, 6-1 over Mia Kupres.

At Texas A&M, Lucciana Perez defeated Guillermina Grant 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), while the country's No. 1 player, Mary Stoiana, beat Dasha Vidmanova 6-1, 7-6 (7th). :4) countered. The Aggies then won when No. 3 seed Nicole Khirin defeated Mell Reasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

“Really proud of the difficult ground we've covered over the last three months,” Bernstein said after a 4-0 semifinal win a day earlier against Pepperdine. “This team has a lot of character, a lot of heart and a lot of fight. They play for a lot of people at home.”

Wallace retired after last season when Georgia lost to North Carolina in the semifinals, ending his 38-year tenure as head coach that included 20 SEC titles and 818 wins.

Bernstein played on the Georgia men's team from 2007 to 2011 and was part of a team that won a national title in 2008. He was promoted to women's head coach after serving as an assistant coach under Wallace for eleven seasons.

“He knows what it takes to be a national champion and how to succeed on and off the field,” athletic director Josh Brooks said in announcing the hiring.

Georgia defeated Alabama State, Florida State, Cal and Stanford to reach the semifinals.

Georgia (25-5) returned four of the six players it fielded in the semifinals last season: Vildmanova, Reasco, Lopata and Grant.

Alex Vecic of Germany moved up to No. 2 in singles after a redshirt season. Junior Mai Nirundorn of Thailand moved to No. 6 in singles.

Grant, of Uruguay, heard encouragement from retiring Georgia men's tennis coach Manuel Diaz in Spanish during their semifinal match. He competed in the NCAA singles and doubles competition this week.

Texas A&M (28-7) took the double point for the first time this year in four games against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

The match was suspended due to rain less than 30 minutes into the doubles match, resumed briefly before experiencing another delay, before going indoors due to storms in the area and winning on courts 2 and 3. The Aggies proved too strong in singles to secure the national title.

Anna Harden

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