STILLWATER -- As the NCAA produced selection show rolled on the big screens in the Varsity Room in Gallagher-Iba Arena and the Oklahoma State men's tennis team looked on waiting rather late in the show to see their reward for a season well played, you have to wonder if either head coach Jay Udwadia or any of his players that includes four seniors found themselves day dreaming about a win a couple of weeks ago in Waco, Texas over the vaunted Baylor Bears and how that likely impacted the NCAA Tennis Selection Committee's decision. That win was a difference maker that everybody felt as soon as the final point was played. Oklahoma State bumped up on the tennis bracket as they earned a host spot for the second year in a row and this time they are the 11th seed as compared to the 16th seed a year ago.
Oklahoma State will open up play in the first round on Friday, May 12 with UMKC and Drake will be in Stillwater to play 25th ranked Illinois in the other first round match. The two winners will play each other to advance to the Sweet 16 on Saturday, May 13.
Last year the Cowboys hosted and advanced with 4-0 shutouts over Bryant and Arkansas. The Cowboys went on to a quarterfinal berth in the NCAA Tournament. This is the fourth straight year for the Pokes to make it to the NCAA and that is the second longest streak in school history as they went seven straight years under former head coach James Wadley from 2003-09 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in three of those appearances.
“We’ve seen over the years that any team can make a run through the tournament,” head coach Jay Udwadia said after flashing a big smile and congratulating his team in front of the audience that included the women's team in the Varsity Room. “We saw it here at OSU last year with the women’s tennis team, so we’re going to take it one match at a time. I want to congratulate our guys on being selected to host again this year. We were the No. 16 seed last year and now we’re up to No. 11, but we want to keep going up.
“Tonight’s practice for us is going to be under the lights and I think it is going to be electric," Udwadia added. "We’re really looking forward to getting the tournament started.”
OSU has built one of the nation's most impressive resumes this season, as the Cowboys have defeated 11 ranked foes, including four top-10 opponents, recorded their first top-two finish in the Big 12 since 2007 and made their 11th appearance in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. Oklahoma State has not played Illinois and several players joked about taking on (former OSU basketball coach) Brad Underwood. Oklahoma State did play UMKC earlier this season and won indoors 7-0 in the Greenwood Tennis Center.
All session tickets for this year's regional will go on sale Wednesday morning at 8 p.m. by either phone (877-255-4678) or at the OSU Ticket Office. The tickets are $15 for all sessions, while individual day tickets will be available one hour prior to the first match of each day at the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center.