|Women's Tennis Team Set For NCAA Debut|
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – A 42-year drought ends Friday afternoon when UNCW makes its first postseason appearance against host and 13th-ranked Clemson in a first-round pairing of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Regionals at the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center in Clemson, S.C.
The Seahawks (17-3) and Tigers (20-6) meet at 1 p.m., following the first match of the day between Winthrop (18-4) and Auburn (16-10. The winners meet Saturday at 1 p.m. for the opportunity to advance to the bracket’s Sweet Sixteen.
“We’re really excited about playing,” said Evan Clark, UNCW’s second-year head coach and the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association Coach-of-the-Year. “We took some time off after the CAA championships and got some rest. We’ve had a good two weeks of practice and feel good about going down there on Friday.”
Women’s tennis got its start at UNCW in 1972-73 and began NCAA Division I play in 1976-77 under Jane Batson. The team reached the CAA finals last season and collected the No. 1 seed for the CAA Tournament for the first time this year before edging the College of Charleston, 4-3, for the conference title.
UNCW has been on a tear lately and carries a 12-match winning streak into the NCAA tourney. The Seahawks have not lost a match in more than two months behind veterans Olga Blank, Kelly Cameron Angie Sekely.
“Olga, Kelly and Angie have been tremendous leaders for us this year and that should help. They’re really excited about going out with a bang. I know they’ll get the team pumped up and help get them ready for the match on Friday.”
Sekely, the team’s top player, owns an 18-1 record and has a 14-match winning streak intact. The Mississauga, Ontario, netter was named the 2014 CAA Player-of-the-Year and Most Outstanding Performer at the CAA Championships.
Clemson earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th straight year and is hosting the first and second rounds for the eighth time in the last 10 years.
The Tigers and 17th-year head coach Nancy Harris tied for the regular season championship in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but lost in the ACC quarterfinals to rival Duke, 4-3, on April 24 in Cary, N.C.
Over the last 12 seasons, Clemson has compiled a 24-12 record in the NCAA Tournament and won its first round match every time. The Tigers have reached the Sweet Sixteen eight times in the last 10 years and advanced to the Final Four in 2004 and 2005.
“Clemson is a very good team and we have a lot of respect for them,” Clark said. “We’ve been approaching this as an opportunity. It’s a tremendous opportunity for our team and our program. We’ll give it our best shot and leave it all out there.