Ahhh, Mr. Helgeson, We Meet Again

It seems like only yesterday you were wearing the burnt orange. I remember your freshman year at the NCAAs in College Station where you beat a favored John Isner, to make All-American.

Helgeson the Traitor

A year later you had become one of the top-2 Americans in the country and a top-10 player. You lead the Longhorns to the semifinals. But that wasn’t enough. Something just didn’t make you happy on the 40 Acres, so you bolted for Athens and the comfort of playing #2 behind Big John and the easy National Championship. I mean, when you have the reigning U.S. Open Junior Doubles Champions playing #3 doubles, how do you lose?

Back to tonight’s match. I think the team’s match up well. Obviously Georgia won 4-2 at the indoors and are the favorite, but you have to like UT chances the way they have been playing. This will be UT’s first time in the championship, despite being the NCAAs all-time winningest program. Georgia is attempting to win their sixth national championship.

Here’s the line-up, strength vs. strength.
Doubles
#17 Jamie Hunt/Nate Schnugg (UGA) vs. #9 Ed Corrie/Kellen Damico (UT)
Luis Flores/Javier Garrapiz (UGA) vs. #53 Luis Diaz Barriga/Miguel Reyes Varela (UT)
Travis Helgeson/Christian Vitulli (UGA) vs. Dimitar Kutrovsky/Josh Zavala (UT)

Singles
#4 Travis Helgeson vs. #10 Dimitar Kutrovsky (UT)
#15 Nate Schnugg vs. #41 Kellen Damico (UT)
#59 Luis Flores vs. #47 Ed Corrie (UT)
#38 Jamie Hunt vs. Luis Diaz Barriga (UT)
#121 Javier Garrapiz vs. Milan Mihailovic (UT)
Christian Vitulli vs. Miguel Reyes Varela (UT)

Texas has to win the doubles and if you look at the rankings, they should get it. But we all know that is goofy. Hunt and Schnugg are great and as the Austin paper stated today, Hunt and Damico are best friends.

Truthfully, it is hard for me to root against Hunt. He’s a great kid from San Antonio who I have known for years. I have been lucky enough to watch him grow and saw every one of his U.S. Open matches. His grandfather played for UT and it was between Georgia, USC and Texas for college. I know he really wanted to go to UT, but thought he had a better shot at a NC at UGA.

Regardless, UT really needs the doubles point to gain momentum and I think they can get it. Georgia won the point at the Indoors, but the lineups were different.

In singles, I would love to see Helgeson choke, but he’s a gamer and the #1 line will be a battle. He beat Dmitri at the Indoors, 4 and 6. Edge Georgia.

Line two presents two guy who know each other very well. Hell, they won Junior Wimbledon together back in 2006. Damico actually has three wins over Schnugg, once in the back draw at Kalamazoo in 2006 and one at the Spring International in 2006. Damico beat Schnugg three in the third at the Indoors. Edge Texas.

Flores and Corrie at #3. Flores has been in and out of their lineup lately, but played well yesterday. Corrie has played well, but has just been meeting up with some better competition. I would give the edge to Georgia.

Hunt and Diaz Barriga. This may decide it all. Both are big-time gamers and are undefeated during the NCAAs. Kirk Bohls actually did an interesting article on Luigi a week ago in the Statesman. Center found him at the ITF in Tulsa years ago. His sister plays at Tulsa. He quit the team a little over a year ago after a match in Tulsa. His whole tennis life revolves around what happens in Tulsa. Edge Georgia, slightly.

At #5, Garrapiz vs. Mihailovic. Milan had a hiccup yesterday, but has been money all during this run. It was my fault because I jinxed him. I know he’s the underdog, but I am going to pick him to win the deciding match. Edge Texas.

I think UT has an edge here at six with Vitulli vs. Reyes Varela. Varela has played real well throughout and is a solid six. Edge Texas.

OK, so despite me saying UT should lose, I am going to be the optimist and say they win 4-3. Of course this could change if Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz, who has been known to jack with his lineup, makes some changes. Center has been playing his lineup the way you are supposed to, straight-up. If Georgia changes their lineup, I think it gives UT an even bigger advantage.

On the subject of Diaz, he’s a bit squirrelly. He kind of gives me the creeps. I have heard several stories of him trying to intimidate other coaches and steal players off other teams. I think people see him as such a good guy, but behind the scenes, there’s something a little seedy.

Oh well, that’s enough for now. Just remember to tune into ESPNU at 6 p.m. the action.

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