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GGC men open fall tennis season with major tournament in Athens

<p style="text-align:right;">Mark Verryth of Australia hits during a Georgia Gwinnett College tennis practice. Verryth and five of his teammates are playing in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships against some of the nation&#8217;s top programs this weekend. (Photo: Grizzly Athletics)

Mark Verryth of Australia hits during a Georgia Gwinnett College tennis practice. Verryth and five of his teammates are playing in the Southern Intercollegiate Championships against some of the nation’s top programs this weekend. (Photo: Grizzly Athletics)

LAWRENCEVILLE — Georgia Gwinnett College’s tennis team, in just its second season, was invited to participate in the oldest fall tournament with some of the nation’s elite programs.

Six Grizzlies are headed to Athens this weekend for the Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Among those going are freshman Mark Verryth from Australia and senior Bruno Tiberti, who played No. 1 singles for 2012 NAIA tennis champion Oklahoma Christian and was Most Outstanding Player. Tiberti came to GGC when Oklahoma Christian dropped tennis last year.

The field includes Georgia Tech and Georgia, winner of six national championships, among many other SEC and ACC representatives.

“We’re thrilled to be invited,” GGC head coach Chase Hodges said. “It’s a tribute to how far we’ve come in a short amount of time that we’re going to compete against the best in the country.”

The individual event starts Friday morning and runs through Monday.

“We don’t have the type of group — and I hope the results will show in the spring — with a mentality of just doing the best we can,” Hodges said.

“We expect to compete.”

The Grizzlies’ fall season continues Sept. 27-29 with both the men and women going to New Orleans for the ITA Regionals. Players who advance from the regionals will be eligible for the ITA national championships Oct. 10-13 in Fort Myers, Fla.

GGC wraps up the fall schedule Oct. 18-20 with the Grizzly Open at the GGC tennis facility in Lawrenceville.

More than 10 universities have committed to the tournament.

“That will be the finale for the fall and we’ll amp it back up in mid-January,” Hodges said. “Just like all the other teams here, we’re just really excited to be able to compete in the postseason.

“We’ve set our goals high.”