ATHENS KU Singh was one of the best college tennis players in the country. He was Georgias best player. He is also, in the words of his now-former head coach, a very different individual.
While his teammates stretched together, Singh would be away on the side, stretching on his own. When everyone else warmed up together, Singh would be on the side again, alone.
We were flexible. But he wasnt happy, and thats okay, Manny Diaz, the longtime head mens tennis coach at Georgia, said on Wednesday.
That still didn't quite prepare Diaz for what was to become. On Tuesday, at around 4:30 p.m., Singh walked into Diazs office and pulled out a couple pieces of paper. It was a prepared statement.
Three days before the start of the NCAA tournament, Georgias best player was quitting. He was going home to India.
Diaz was surprised, to say the least. In 31 years at Georgia, including the past 24 as coach, this had never happened. But he also realized there was no use talking Singh out of it, so he didnt let him finish reading his statement.
Its not like you decide to go to India on the spur of the moment, said Diaz, who has guided Georgia to four national championships. I respectfully listened to him, and thats it.
So on Wednesday Singh, rated the fourth-best college tennis player in the nation, was on a flight to India. His now-former teammates, ranked second in the nation prior to Singhs departure, will try to win without him.
The timing of it is kinda mind-boggling, Diaz said.
So why did he do this? Singh, in a statement provided Tuesday night to Dawgs247.com, cited a combination of personal differences I had with the coaching staff that built up over the course of the semester, and his own post-college goals.
As I am sure you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, especially at this juncture, Singh said.
Asked to confirm whether there were personal differences, Diaz declined to comment, saying the two didnt get into specifics during their Tuesday meeting.
I didnt really care what reasons he gave," Diaz said. "It wasnt for the moment, I didnt think. It was (irrelevant). He had already made a decision. He had already purchased his ticket.
Singh had never threatened to leave before, according to Diaz. Two weeks ago he had requested time away, telling Diaz he needed time to rest his body, and to study. Diaz saw his other players around the tennis complex, but not Singh, until he came in to quit.
This was Singhs second season at Georgia. He transferred after his sophomore year at Illinois, which also happens to be the site of this years NCAA championships. Singh finished this year 17-9, after going 22-5 as a junior.
Georgia begins play Friday in the first and second round, at home in its complex. Singh was the teams No. 1 singles player, so with him gone every player just moves up a slot.
I think youll have a bunch of guys representing Georgia that want to be here, that will play their hearts out for each other, Diaz said. And thats what our program stands for, and I think thats what youll see out here.