''I am pleased to be selected for the compete in the NCAA Central Regional,'' Head Coach Judi Pavon said. ''We had a feeling all along that we would be sent to Nebraska. We hope for some decent weather, but we will deal with whatever we run into.''
The NCAA Central Regional features eight of the Top 25 squads in the nation, according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index Ratings, and all but Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Yale and Southern are rated in the Top 50. The ranked teams are as follows: #6 Texas, #8 California, #10 Tennessee, #11 Florida, #12 New Mexico, #18 Tulsa, #21 Purdue, #22 Oklahoma, #29 TCU, #30 Baylor, #31 Indiana, #32 Kent State, #34 Michigan State, #37 Missouri, #40 Kansas State and #44 Arkansas.
This season, the Lady Vols are 21-8-0 (.724) against the 21-team Central Regional field. All-time the Big Orange is 223-88-5 (.706) against the invited institutions. UT also owns a winning record against 16 squads and is undefeated against Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Kent State, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Yale. The Central Regional will mark the initial meeting between Tennessee and Southern in women's golf.
''At first glance, the field looks manageable as we have beat most of the teams at least once this season,'' Pavon said. ''We feel that we are in a good position to advance to the NCAA Championships. However, the level of play rises during the Regionals and we are going to have to step up and play good golf.''
Tennessee is coming off a third-place showing at the Southeastern Conference Championships where SEC Freshman of the Year Violeta Retamoza (Aguascalientes, Mexico) took runner-up honors. Junior Mary Jan Fernandez (Henderson, Nev.) matched last season's finish at the SEC Championship with a fifth-place tying 223 (71-75-77), while team captain Jessica Shepley (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) saw her streak of nine-straight Top 15 finishes come to an end as the first-team All-SEC selection posted a 231 (71-78-82) to tie for 16th.