Vols, Lady Vols to host first two rounds of NCAA tournament

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (utsports.com) -- The draw for the NCAA Tennis Championships was released Tuesday evening, and Tennessee Volunteers received the No. 3 seed to match their new national ranking.

The Vols (21-4), who rose from fourth to third in Monday’s rankings, will host the first and second rounds of the NCAAs at Barksdale Stadium. They face Radford (22-3) to start the tournament on May 13, and the victor advances to play either Vanderbilt (13-10) or Virginia Tech (14-11) on May 14.

The winner of the second-round match moves on to Palo Alto, Calif., for the final four rounds of the team tournament May 19-24.

Unbeaten Virginia was given the top seed, and two-time defending champion Southern California is seeded second. Ohio State rounds out the top seeds in the 64-team draw at No. 4.

Sam Winterbotham, who has now led the Vols to the NCAA bids his first five years as head coach, said this season has been a challenging one, but added that the Vols have not fully hit their stride as a team.

“What I really like right now is that we’re No. 3 in the country, but we don’t feel we’ve played well,” Winterbotham said. “When we start playing well, we feel like we could get hot in this tournament and have a really good chance.”

Last year, the Vols were the No. 2 seed and reached the NCAA final for the third time in program history before falling to Southern California 4-2.

Tennessee has hosted the first two rounds of the NCAAs eight times since 1999 and sports a 15-1 record in those matches. Recently, the Vols have been tough to beat in Knoxville, having won 33 consecutive at home.

For Tennessee’s three seniors, John-Patrick Smith, Boris Conkic and Matteo Fago, the NCAAs mark their final home appearance in uniform. During the seniors’ four years in the lineup, the Vols have gone 53-2 in dual matches in Knoxville, and Smith has won 32 in a row on his home court.

Historically Speaking: The Vols have made 21 previous appearances in the NCAAs since 1979 and have a 34-21 record in the national tournament. Tennessee has yet to win a national title in tennis but has three final appearances: 1990, 2001 and 2010.

NCAA Singles and Doubles Participant List: The NCAA will release its list of participants for the 64-player national singles draw and the 32-team doubles draw.

In singles, Tennessee has three players ranked in the top 50: sophomore Rhyne Williams at No. 3, Smith at No. 11 and sophomore Tennys Sandgren at No. 45. Smith reached the finals of the singles tournament as a freshman, and Williams made it to the round of 16 in his first appearance last year.

Conkic and Smith have been ranked No. 1 nationally together since March 1 and are likely to receive a high seed in the doubles event. Smith was an NCAA Doubles Finalist in 2009 and 2010 with Davey Sandgren.

NCAA Tennis Championships

Top 16 Seeds
1. Virginia
2. Southern California
3. Tennessee
4. Ohio State
5. Baylor
6. Georgia
7. Florida
8. Stanford
9. Texas A&M
10. Kentucky
11. Duke
12. UCLA
13. Texas
14. California
15. Georgia Tech
16. North Carolina
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (utladyvols.com) -- The No. 13-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team earned the No. 13 overall seed in the 2011 NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament and will host the first and second rounds of the tournament at Barksdale Stadium from May 14-15.

Being able to play the opening two rounds on its home court was very important to UT co-head coach Mike Patrick.

"We thought we would be hosting, but you never know until it's announced," Patrick said. "A couple of teams that probably thought they were hosting didn't end up hosting and I'm glad that we'll be able to play at home."

Tennessee (19-7) has a 13-1 mark at home on the season. The Lady Vols will face College of Charleston in an opening round contest on May 14. The Cougars earned their way into the 2011 NCAA field by by posting a 21-7 record and taking home the Southern Conference tournament title.

This will be the second all-time meeting between the two schools and the first since April 14, 1978, when CofC topped the Lady Vols, 6-3.

The other two teams taking part in the Knoxville regional are Vanderbilt and Winthrop, who will face off in the first round on May 14 as well.

The Big Orange is familiar with both schools, having defeated Winthrop, 4-0, in an NCAA first round contest last season. The Lady Vols have faced off with Vanderbilt on 53 occasions, more than any other foe in school history. Earlier this season, the Orange and White topped the then-No. 8 Commodores, 5-2, on March 13 in Knoxville.

Still, Patrick said his squad is concentrating on the task at hand.

" We have to worry about College of Charleston," Patrick said. "We haven't played them before, so that's good for us. Also, that first match is always tough to get the rust off, since we haven't played in three weeks."

UT is aiming to build on its success in last year's NCAA tournament, when the Lady Vols advanced to the quarterfinals for only the second time in program history.

Patrick said he feels like this year's team may be in a slightly better position than last year's was at the same time.

"I think this year, we have more depth," Patrick said. "Right now, we're a little bit healthier. Hopefully nothing happens between now and then."

Live scoring for all three Knoxville regional matches will be available on UTLadyVols.com. Match times have not been determined yet.

Get interactive with Lady Vol tennis! Follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ladyvol_tennis or become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ladyvoltennis.


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