Tide Men To Host NCAA Tennis Openers
The Alabama women's team also earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The 24th-ranked Crimson Tide women will head to Athens, Ga. to take on 35th-ranked Boise State in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament that begins May 8.
"Being selected to host means a lot to our program," said Alabama Men's Coach Billy Pate. "This is something we've aimed to get for quite some time. I am very proud of this team and what they've already accomplished this season."
This marks the 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Alabama and sixth under Pate. Last season, the Tide dropped a tough 4-3 decision to South Alabama in the first round. Alabama's best finish in the 64-team pool was the Round of 16, last accomplished in 2007.
Furman enters the NCAA Tournament fresh off its second-consecutive Southern Conference Championship. Paladin senior Andy Juc ranks 102nd nationally in singles and 64th in doubles with senior partner Bo Ladyman. Coincidentally, the Tide has faced all three of the teams traveling to Tuscaloosa beginning with Furman on Jan. 24 where Alabama emerged victorious 5-2. The Tide then took on both Boise State and Middle Tennessee at the Blue Gray National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Montgomery, and won both matches by a score of 4-0.
"We've got a great draw," added Pate.. "Although we've been successful against all three of these teams already this season we've still got to go out there prepared because this is the postseason."
The winner of the Boise State/Middle Tennessee and Alabama/Furman matches will meet Saturday, May 9 at 2 p.m. in the second round.
Alabama has collected 16 wins over ranked opponents this season, and six of its seven losses have come to teams ranked in the top 10.. In addition, the Tide had one of its best starts to a season winning 11 of its first 12 matches.
Tickets will be available later this week on RollTide.com and will also be available at the stadium gates. The cost per session for adults is $5 and $3 for children.
The Alabama women's team of Coach Jenny Mainz learned it would be meeting Boise State.
"We are very excited," said Mainz. "We worked diligently all season, and this was our goal. We have a lot of work to do with Boise State. They are a very good team."
The Crimson Tide is heading to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in program history and first since 2006. The team's best finish occurred most recently in 2003 when it advanced to the second round of play.
Boise State comes in having lost in the finals of the WAC Championship to top seed and top-20 opponent Fresno State. The Broncos recorded 23 wins on the season and finished second in the WAC. Earlier in the season, Boise State had a 14-match winning streak, including five wins over ranked teams during the streak. Junior Pichittra Thongdach leads the way for the Broncos, currently ranked No. 80 nationally in singles. Boise State does not have a doubles pair ranked nationally.
In the other first round match taking place in Athens, No. 2 overall seed and host Georgia, who was the automatic qualifier from the SEC, takes on South Carolina State, the automatic qualifier from the MEAC. The winner of that match will then face the winner of the Alabama/Boise State match.
"You are placed where you finish," added Mainz. "I give credit to the strength of the SEC. The conference was loaded this season and it was very competitive. We have played Georgia twice this season, but right now we are just thinking about Boise State."
This season has been a memorable one for Alabama as it recorded its best start in program history and its longest win streak at 11-0. The Tide defeated seven ranked teams and reached as high as No. 16 in the nation for its highest team ranking since 1997. In addition, Alabama received the ITA National Team Sportsmanship Award for the month of March and has had four SEC weekly recognitions.
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