The Alabama men's tennis team (14-12, 4-7 SEC) received its ninth NCAA Tournament bid in the last 11 seasons Wednesday as announced by the NCAA on ESPNEWS. UA will square off against Georgia Tech (11-9) in the opening round of the Athens, Ga. Regional, set to begin on May 13 at 11 a.m. CT.
"The guys are excited about the opportunity to advance our season," Alabama Men's Tenniks Coach Billy Pate said. "We've played well down the stretch and I like how our team has come together. This is what we've worked for."
Alabama is the No. 3-seed in the Regional and the match with Georgia Tech will be a rematch from earlier in the season. The Yellow Jackets defeated ‘Bama 6-1 on February 18 in Atlanta.
Top-seeded Georgia (24-0) will face No. 4-seed Furman (20-10) in the other first round match-up. Should Alabama advance it would earn another rematch against either Georgia or Furman. The Regional winner will then be one of 16 teams to advance to the NCAA Championship site in Palo Alto, Calif. where the National Championships will be played at Stanford University.
Pate's squad enters the tournament having won five of its last matches, with the only loss coming at the hands of No.1-ranked Georgia in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament. Alabama is 9-11 all-time in NCAA Tournament play and is 5-5 in first round action.
Nine of Alabama's 14 wins this season have come against ranked opponents and it will look to add a few more to that column when the tournament begins next Saturday.
This is third time that Pate has led the Tide into the NCAA's during his four-year stint at the Capstone. ‘Bama is 2-2 in the tournament under Pate's guidance, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2003. Selections for the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments will be announced Thursday afternoon.
For further information concerning the 2006 NCAA Tennis Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com/tennis/mens.
The Alabama women's tennis team (11-11, 6-5 SEC) received its sixth consecutive berth into the NCAA Tournament as announced Wednesday by the NCAA. The Crimson Tide is the No. 3 seed in the Durham, N.C. Regional, hosted by Duke University, and will play No. 2-seed Virginia in the first round.
"It's great to get in the tournament," Alabama Women's Coach Jenny Mainz said. "We've been tested all year. We've played great competition and hopefully we're ready for this challenge."
Host Duke will play Winthrop in the regional's other first round match. The exact date and time of Alabama's first round match has yet to be determined, although it will most likely begin on Friday, May 12.
For the Alabama staff, the match-up with Virginia will feel somewhat familiar. Former Kentucky head coach Mark Guilbeau is now the head man at UVA and he is assisted by former Auburn head coach Troy Porco. Both are in their first year at UVA.
This will be the eighth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Alabama, with the last six coming under the guidance of Mainz. ‘Bama has a 4-7 all-time record in the tournament and will be looking to get past the first round for the first time since 2003. This is the second time in the last six seasons that Alabama has played in the Durham Regional. In 2001 the Tide advanced to the second round before losing to Duke.
This season has already been a successful one for the Tide. Seniors Robin Stephenson and Ashley Bentley have each soared past the school record for most career singles victories this season and helped the team capture its second SEC Western Division crown in the last four seasons. They were each named First-Team All-SEC two weeks ago while junior Mari Muller earned Second-Team All-SEC distinction.
The tournament consists of 64 teams divided into 16 regional sites with each regional winner advancing to the championship site in Palo Alto, Calif. The final four rounds of the tournament will be played between May 20-29.
Selections for the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments will be announced Thursday afternoon. Stephenson and Bentley are both expected to receive bids.
For more information concerning the 2006 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com/tennis/womens.