Vols, Lady Vols earn NCAA tournament tennis berths


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (release) -- The 20th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will see some familiar faces in the opening rounds of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships.

The Vols (17-10) will play the first and second rounds at Duke in Durham, N.C., as the No. 2 seed in the four-team region, the NCAA released Tuesday. They will face 54th-ranked Elon in the opening round. If the Vols win, they would advance to face either 11th-ranked Duke or unranked Winthrop.

Tennessee beat Duke 4-2 in an indoor thriller at home early in the season.

Former Vol John Collins, who finished his degree at UT in December, is now a volunteer assistant coach at Elon. Bryan Swartz and Edward Jones, both part of the Vols’ 2010 and 2011 SEC championship teams, are working with the Winthrop program.

The schedule has not been released for the Duke site. Matches will be played from May 10 and 11.

BY THE NUMBERS
24: Total NCAA selections since the championships changed to its present-day team format in 1979. Head coach Sam Winterbotham has led the team to the national tournament his first seven years at Tennessee. Tonight was his squad's eighth selection.

41: Wins the Vols have enjoyed in the NCAA Championships. The Vols' all-time record is 41-24.

17: During Sam Winterbotham's first seven years at Tennessee, the Vols are 17-7 in the NCAA Championships. The team has advanced to the round of 16 five times during that stretch. The Vols have reached the quarterfinals or beyond three times.

3: Times the Vols have reached the NCAA title match. Tennessee reached the finals in 1990, 2001 and most recently in 2010, falling to Southern California 4-2. The Vols have reached the quarterfinals or better on nine occasions.

INDIVIDUAL FIELD RELEASED WEDNESDAY
The 64-player singles and 32-team doubles fields for the NCAA singles and doubles championships will be released Wednesday evening.

Juniors Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese will likely both receive bids in both singles and doubles. Libietis and Reese are currently ranked second nationally and won their first collegiate major title in the fall at the ITA All-American Championships.

In singles, Reese is now ranked 27th and Libietis is 34th.

BACK ON THE ROAD
The Vols are heading on the road for the opening round for the seventh time since the regional/early round format was adopted in the mid-1990s. Tennessee last played a road regional in 2012, beating UNC Wilmington 4-1 and losing a rain-delayed second round 4-0 to North Carolina.
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WOMEN'S RELEASE
The University of Tennessee women's tennis team will head back to Chapel Hill, N.C. for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on May 9-10, as announced by the NCAA Tuesday night.

The Lady Vols are making their 20th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament dating back to 1995 and 24th overall NCAA showing.

Tennessee (13-12) will face Georgia State (12-8) on Friday, May 9, while seventh-seeded and host team North Carolina, will play VCU in the first round.

The winners of those matches will square off on May 10 for a chance to advance to the Round of 16, which takes place in Athens, Ga. The championship site hosts the final four rounds from May 15-20.

“There has been anxiety all year,” said Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick, “and we are going to have five freshmen and one junior playing in NCAAs. Getting in was a great thing and I am excited that they did get in; it will give us a lot of experience. We will go out there and play hard and see what we can do.”

“It was a nervous but exciting experience,” said junior Joanna Henderson. “It has been an up and down season and we weren’t really sure what to expect but I think when our name got called it was just a lot of relief and happiness.”

This will be the first time that the Lady Vols and Panthers have faced off against each other. The Panthers enter the match on a three match win-streak after capturing the school’s first ever Sun Belt Conference Championship. They will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009.

“This is such a good group, they work hard every day. I really can’t ask much more from them. It is asking a lot for five freshmen to go out there and make the NCAA Tournament and they did.”

“We went to North Carolina and we had a close match with them. With this format it is you win you keep going, you lose and you’re out. So you just have to go out there ready to play.”

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRACKET
· The winner of the match will face the winner of the North Carolina (24-5)/VCU (12-9) meeting.

· The series between the Lady Vols and North Carolina is tied at 14-14 after the Tar Heels defeated UT 4-1 last season in the Round of 32 at the NCAA Tournament.

· The two teams have now met twice in the NCAA Tournament, a 2004 meeting in Chapel Hill resulting in a 4-3 victory for the Lady Vols and last season’s UNC win.

· Tennessee and VCU have met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the last two seasons, both 4-0 wins for the Lady Vols. UT holds a 3-0 all-time series lead, with all of the meetings coming in the NCAA postseason.

INDIVIDUAL NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES
· The NCAA Individual Championship selection will be announced on Wednesday, April 30 at 6 p.m.

FORMER LADY VOLS IN THE TOURNAMENT
· All-American’s Alison Ojeda and Kata Szekely will also return to the NCAA Tournament this season, but with different teams.

· Ojeda, an assistant coach at Baylor, will host the first and second rounds as the 14 seed where they will face Texas A&M Corpus Christi

· Szekely and DePaul won the school’s first ever Big East Tournament this season and will stay in Chicago for the NCAA Tournament when they head to Northwestern’s campus to face Notre Dame.


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