He could at least wait until the tournaments are over...kinda selfish IMO.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Days before the start of the NCAA tournament, the No. 1 singles player for Georgia men's tennis is no longer a part of the team.
KU Singh has played No. 1 singles for Georgia in every match since early March. The third-seeded Bulldogs will now open the NCAA tournament Friday without him. (Photo courtesy of UGA Sports Communications)
Senior KU Singh cited "personal differences" with the coaching staff as part of the reason he opted to abruptly call it quits and not help the SEC champion Bulldogs in this month's attempt to win their first national title since 2008.
"It was my choice to leave the team," Singh told Dawgs247 on Tuesday night. "My decision to leave was purely a combination of personal differences I had with the coaching staff that built up over the course of the semester and my own personal goals moving forward after college. As I am sure you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, especially at this juncture."
The nation's overall No. 3 seed, Georgia (22-4) opens NCAA tournament play at 1 p.m. Friday with a first-round home match against Binghamton (16-9). The Bulldogs were considered one of the favorites in the 64-team field prior to Singh's surprising exit, which now is a huge blow to their chances.
Individually, Singh had been seeded fifth overall in the NCAA's Division I singles draw, meaning he would have been a contender for that title as well.
A native of India, Singh was an impressive 22-3 in dual matches last season, finishing the campaign at No. 2 singles.
He had a singles record of 17-9 this season and was the No. 1 player in Georgia's lineup in every dual match dating back to March 4.
“This is a very close group, and today they’re closer than ever,” UGA coach Manual Diaz said in a statement Tuesday announcing Singh had quit the team, "effective immediately."
“Our program will continue to stress teamwork, togetherness, and playing with our hearts for each other, as it always has," Diaz said. "We are united and are moving forward in a positive manner.”
With his collegiate career now finished, Singh will pursue a future on the ATP Tour. He plans to now fly back to Asia, stopping to train in Thailand before returning to visit friends and family in India, where he will finish his degree this summer, he said.
Singh's exit times out with the end of spring semester classes at UGA, which he also tied to his decision.
"This semester has been full of challenges," Singh said, "not the least of which was taking 28 credit hours during our dual match season, and it has just taken its toll on me. I am just mentally exhausted and need a change in environment in order to feel 100 percent again.
"I had a great experience here at UGA and made a lot of great friends on and off the court. I am grateful for having the opportunity to receive a top flight education and will finish my degree at the end of this summer before pursuing the professional circuit."
Singh transferred to UGA prior to the 2011-12 season after two years at the Illinois. The final four rounds of this year's NCAA tournament will be in Champaign, Ill., hosted by Singh's former school.
UPDATE: 1:01 p.m. Wednesday
Speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, UGA coach Manuel Diaz said he "was very surprised" by KU Singh's exit, though his No. 1 player had been on roughly a two-week absence from the team since the SEC tournament.
"He asked to be given time to rest his body and time to study," said Diaz, who met with Singh on Tuesday afternoon and received the news at that point.
"The timing of it is kind of mind-boggling a little bit," Diaz said.
Diaz wouldn't comment when asked about Singh's statement regarding his own perceived differences between he and the staff, though he described the player as someone who had always liked to do his own thing.
"KU is a very different individual," Diaz said. "It was not the easiest, not because he's a bad person in any way. I just want to make sure that's clear. It was just everybody was stretching together, and then there was KU on the side. Everybody was warming up, and then there was KU on the side. I made very broad flexibility, really, to his needs best as I could. We were flexible, but he wasn't happy, and that's OK."
Diaz said Singh had a two-three page prepared statement that he read to him.
"He started by reading a statement and said he had made a decision, and he was flying back to India the next day," Diaz said. "That was yesterday at 4:45 when we met. It was pretty surprising, because it's not like you decide to go to India at the spur of the moment. He had thought about it, and I respectfully listened to him. ... I really didn't care what reasons he gave. It wasn't for the moment, I didn't think it was relevant. He'd already made a decision and purchased his ticket."
Freshman Ben Wagland will take Singh's place at No. 1 singles for the duration of the NCAA tournament.
Georgia's official singles lineup will feature Wagland followed by sophomore Nathan Pasha (No. 2), freshman Austin Smith (No. 3), junior Hernus Pieters (No. 4), junior Garrett Brasseaux (No. 5) and freshman Marco Nunez (No. 6).
"I think he's capable of competing with anybody in the nation," Diaz said of Wagland, a talented Australia native. "He's got a bright future. He's had a tremendous year. We're looking for great things from him. ... It's never easy (in NCAAs), even when you have the best team. I think you'll have a bunch of guys representing Georgia that want to be here. They'll play their hearts out for each other."