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Grizzlies warm up spring season with tennis win over SCAD

Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Gwinnett College doubles tennis player Erik Moberg returns a volley as the GGC tennis team hosts their first match at the new GGC Tennis Center on Friday. GGC played Savannah College of Art and Design. Partnered with Moberg on GGC's number one doubles team was Tony Kostadinov playing against SCAD's number one team of Jack Anton and Darnell Squbin.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Gwinnett College doubles tennis player Erik Moberg returns a volley as the GGC tennis team hosts their first match at the new GGC Tennis Center on Friday. GGC played Savannah College of Art and Design. Partnered with Moberg on GGC's number one doubles team was Tony Kostadinov playing against SCAD's number one team of Jack Anton and Darnell Squbin.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Gwinnett College's number one doubles and number one singles tennis player Tony Kostadinov returns a serve to the Savannah College of Art and Design's doubles team on Friday, during the first tennis match held at the new GGC Tennis Center. Kostadinov's doubles partner was Erik Moberg.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn The Georgia Gwinnett College tennis team hosts a match on Friday, against Savannah College of Art and Design. This was the first event held at GGC's new Tennis Center located at the former Collins Hill Tennis Center.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Gwinnett College's singles tennis player Taylor Hardy, right, greets teammate Rocio Fernandez, left, during introductions prior to the first event held at the new GGC Tennis Center on Friday. GGC hosted Savannah College of Art and Design in men's and women's tennis matches.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Temperatures in the high 30s and brisk winds made Friday feel anything but spring-like at the Georgia Gwinnett College Tennis Center.

"Welcome to North Pole tennis," GGC president Dr. Daniel Kaufman quipped during ceremonies prior to the Grizzlies men's tennis team's inaugural season opener against Savannah College of Art and Design. "Those of you who were there when we first started (GGC's athletics), the first soccer game (last August) was about 50 degrees warmer."

Still, not even the blustery conditions could diminish the warm feelings surrounding the debut of the school's first spring sports season.

With members of the school's baseball, softball and women's tennis teams among the crowd of about 350 fans, the Grizzlies made a strong first impression by rolling past the Bees 7-2.

Despite the weather and any nervousness they may have been feeling being the first of GGC's spring teams to compete -- baseball, softball and women's tennis begin their respective seasons over the next two weeks -- head coach Chase Hodges said before the match that his team was eager to get started.

"We're just ready to play," Hodges said. "At the end of the day, our guys have been training hard. We've been in the weight room conditioning. We've been hitting a lot of balls. We've been doing all this since August to get to this point where we're actually competing. I feel very confident in our team, and I know they're going to come out and represent GGC in a first-class way. This isn't ideal tennis weather, but (SCAD) has to play in it, too. So, may the tougher team win."

The Grizzlies turned out to be plenty tough during the three doubles matches that opened the day's competition.

For the record, the No. 2 team of Hernan Hatem and Luke Morland posted the first match victory in GGC history by rolling through SCAD's Alexis Roberts and Theo Gough for an 8-1 victory in the doubles super set.

Manatza Mazimbe and Peter Yellico pulled the Bees even for the match by downing the Grizzlies' Theo Arruda and Taylor by an 8-4 score at No. 3 doubles, though the No. 1 doubles contest may have been the match of the day.

The Grizzlies' Erik Moberg and Tony Kostadinov fell behind SCAD's Jack Anton and Darnell Squbin 6-2, but rallied to win the next five games -- including three service breaks -- to take an 8-6 victory.

"We were a little tentative the first 15 minutes of doubles action, but we settled down and really dominated from there," said Hodges. "To fight back the way (Erik and Tony) did gave us a lot of momentum heading into singles play."

The Grizzlies then dominated the singles matches, with Kostadinov quickly dispatching Roberts 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3, while Moreland swept Gough 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 to set the tone for GGC taking five of the six singles contests.

It was as good a start as Hodges could've expected from his first-year program, though the Grizzlies won't rest on their laurels as they quickly return to action with a home match against Covenant College today at noon.

"We have a lot of confidence heading into (today's) match and for the rest of the season," Hodges said.

"The future is certainly very bright."