May 5, 2004
The 30th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (15-8), which earned an automatic bid by winning its fourth BIG EAST title last weekend, will head to Cambridge, Mass. for first- and second-round action in the 2004 NCAA Division I Championship, it was announced Wednesday afternoon. The Irish will take part in the only subregional in the nation featuring three top-30 teams and the only one with four conference champions, meeting #19 Tulane (18-4) in the opening round at the Beren Tennis Center on the campus of Harvard University. The hosts (21-6), ranked 21st and seeded 16th overall in the tournament, will face Quinnipiac (12-4) in the first round. Exact dates and times of the matches have not yet been announced, but they will take place from May 14-16.
The second-round winner will advance to Tulsa, Okla. for the final four rounds of competition, slated for May 22-25.
All four teams are in the NCAAs due to automatic bids. Tulane went 3-0 in the regular season and then won the Conference USA tournament, while Harvard won all seven of its conference matches to win the Ivy League title. Quinnipiac was unbeaten in five regular-season matches against Northeast Conference teams before winning the league tournament.
Notre Dame’s first-round matchup will be a showdown between the teams that shared the 1959 NCAA championship, the second and most recent Irish national title. In dual-match action, the teams have split four meetings. This will be the fourth neutral-site match between the Irish and Tulane since 1998, as the squads have played in the Blue/Gray National Classic three times. Notre Dame won the most recent contest, 4-0 in the first round in 2001 en route to winning the event championship.
Harvard and the Irish have met twice in the last five years in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Crimson were victorious 4-2 in 1999 in Terre Haute, Ind., while Notre Dame won 4-0 in 2001 in Cambridge. Overall, Harvard has won four of the seven meetings, though the Irish have taken three of the last four. Notre Dame won the most recent contest, 4-3 in the semifinals of the 2002 Blue/Gray Classic.
Notre Dame and the Bobcats have never previously played.
Five singles players and two doubles teams listed in the national rankings will be at the Harvard subregional: #11 Michael Kogan of Tulane, #36 David Lingman of Harvard, #46 Dmitriy Koch of Tulane, #70 Luis Haddock (Caguas, P.R./Notre Dame H.S.) of Notre Dame, #89 Jonathan Chu of Harvard, #12 David Goulet/Kogan, and #46 Chu/Lingman.
Of the 21 teams on Notre Dame’s regular-season schedule, nine of them earned berths in the NCAA Championship: Illinois (No. 1 overall seed), Duke (No. 5 seed), VCU (No. 13 seed), Florida State, Fresno State, Mississippi State, Ohio State, SMU, and Texas A&M. The Irish were 3-6 against those teams, while also falling 5-2 last fall to USC (No. 2 seed) in an exhibition match.
The Irish had appeared in 12 consecutive NCAA tounaments prior to just missing the field a year ago. Notre Dame has reached the round of 16 on five occasions, highlighted by a 1993 quarterfinal result and a runner-up finish in ’92. In their previous trip to Harvard for the NCAAs, the Irish beat the Crimson in the first round before falling to Washington 4-1 in the second.
For the fifth consecutive year, the NCAA Championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 30 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 34 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take place May 14-16 at 16 campus sites, while the final four rounds will be May 22-25 in Tulsa, Okla.
The draws for the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships will be released Thursday on www.ncaasports.com. They will take place May 26-31 in Tulsa, with 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams competing. Notre Dame competitors have garnered 17 invitations to the national singles tournament and 11 to the doubles event, with all but two singles entries coming since 1990.
There will be televised coverage of the NCAA Championships, as ESPN2 will air a tape-delayed show on the team tournament on June 2 at 2 p.m. EST. Additionally, the Tennis Channel will show the singles and doubles finals in a program first airing June 5 at 6 p.m. EST.