Tide Tennis Learns NCAA Fate Tuesday

Members of the Alabama tennis team know they are in the NCAA Tournament, but the squad will find out Tuesday if they are one of the 16 teams selected to host an NCAA Regional, or if they will have to travel for the first round next week.

There are 16 four-team Regionals held on campus sites around the country, and the winner of each of those Regionals advance to the NCAA Championship site, which this year (and most other years) is in Athens, Georgia.

The Bulldogs will certainly host a Regional since they haven't lost a tennis match all year.

The Crimson Tide is right on the borderline between hosting and travelling, however. Most of the Regional host teams are among the top 16 teams in the nation, but there are Regional considerations that must be made, too. In 2003, the last year in which Alabama made it to Sweet 16, Alabama travelled as the number one Regional seed to Harvard, who hosted as the number two seed.

But the Tide will most likely host as a No. 1 seed or travel to an unknown location as a No. 2 seed. The team will meet at Buffalo Wild Wings at 1:00 pm tomorrow to watch the selection show on ESPNews. Head coach Billy Pate will also give out season awards to the players and key supporters after the selection show.

Bama's top doubles pair of Dan Buikema and Mathieu Thibaudeau broke into the top 25 nationally at No. 23 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings released today. The Alabama sophomores started the season unranked, but a win over No. 7 Somdev Devvarman and Treat Huey of Virginia gave the pair recognition landing them in the rankings.

Alabama's Billy Mertz and Joseph Jung remained in the singles rankings heading into the NCAA tournament. All-SEC second team selection Mertz reached his highest ranking of No. 71, jumping up four spots from last week's poll.

Jung, ranked No. 88 nationally, is the only Alabama player to hold a national ranking the entire season. Jung faced the toughest schedule of any Tide singles player this season, competing against 23 ranked individuals, including four opponents in the top 10.


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