Seahawk Netters Headed Back To NCAA's
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The 44th-ranked UNCW men's tennis team has earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships for the first time and will battle 16th-th ranked Tennessee in a first-round matchup of the NCAA Regionals on Saturday, May 12, in Chapel Hill.
Pairings for the 64-team bracket were announced late Tuesday during a special selection show on www.NCAA.com.
"It's very special this time," said Mait DuBois, UNCW's fifth-year coach, who has guided the Seahawks to all three of their NCAA berths. "Getting an invitation because you win your conference is nice, but this is the committee saying you guys belong and you deserve a shot at the title. It has a completely different feel to it, and makes the selection show a whole more exciting to watch."
"It's a huge compliment to our program. There aren't that many mid-major programs that receive an at-large bid, so we'll take this as a huge compliment."
First-round matches will be played on Saturday, May 12, at 9 a.m. and Noon. The second-round match will be contested on Sunday, May 13, at 1 p.m. between the two winners from Saturday. The winner of each site advances to the championships at the Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on May 18-22.
The 9 a.m. match in Chapel Hill will pit No. 16 Tennessee against No. 44 UNCW. Host UNC Chapel Hill, ranked No. 17, will face off against the College of Charleston at Noon on Saturday.
Tickets are $5 for general admission seating for each day of the championship. Saturday's admission will be good for both first-round matches. Children six-and-under will be admitted free of charge. Gates will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and at Noon on Sunday.
The Seahawks, 17-6, are making their third appearance in the NCAA's in four seasons. UNCW made its post-season debut on May 8, 2009, and fell to No. 26 Virginia Tech, 4-2, in Athens. The Seahawks then dropped a 4-1 decision to Auburn in last year's event on May 13, 2011, also in Athens.
DuBois said: "Every time we've come away from the NCAA Tournament, we felt like we had our opportunities to win, especially last year. We were right there. I think we're past the jitters of being in the NCAA tournament and we're excited about the opportunity."
UNCW has faced 11 nationally-ranked teams this season, fashioning a 6-5 record against the group. The Seahawks lost to three-time defending NCAA champion and top-ranked Southern Cal in the third match of the season in Los Angeles and knocked off then-No. 21 N.C. State in early March at the UNCW Tennis Complex.
UNCW and Tennessee will be joined in Chapel Hill by the host Tar Heels, ranked 17th nationally, and the College of Charleston. UNC-CH will be the top seed at the site, followed by Tennessee, UNCW and CofC.
UNCW played seven teams that made the tournament (Southern California, South Carolina, Memphis, VCU, UTSA, N.C. State and Florida State) during the regular season, compiling a 3-4 record against the group.
The Seahawks have been in the ITA's national rankings every week this spring, climbing as high as No. 33 on March 13. Sophomore Rafael Aita is currently rated 96th in the latest poll.
UNCW is one of four CAA teams to compile a 12-21 career scorecard in the NCAA Tennis Regionals. VCU (16 appearances), William & Mary (3) and Old Dominion (1) have also competed in the tournament.
Two Seahawk players, juniors Chris Cooprider and Kosta Blank, have NCAA Tournament experience after participating in the 2010 event.
The teams will play a single-elimination tournament at the NCAA's 16 first- and second-round sites (four teams at each site) and the final site (16-team bracket) to determine the national champion. The matches will be regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played best of three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at eight games all in doubles and at six games all in singles.