April 29, 2008
The 26th-ranked University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team (16-10) was tabbed as a No.17-32 seed and will travel to Columbus to battle the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State in first round action in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship, it was announced Tuesday afternoon. Action will begin either Friday or Saturday afternoon May 9 or 10 at the Stickney Tennis Center on the campus of Ohio State, with first round winners meeting the following day for the right to advance to the round of 16. The other two teams that will square off in Columbus will be the host Buckeyes and Horizon league champion Cleveland State.
Notre Dame, BIG EAST Conference champions, gained an automatic bid to participate in this year’s NCAA Championship. The Irish have now qualified for the NCAA Division I Championship 17 times in the last 18 seasons. The Buccaneers qualified for the NCAA tournament by virtue of their Atlantic Sun conference championship and bring a 23-3 record to the tournament. The Buckeyes are the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed as they captured their third Big Ten title in a row last week with a 4-3 win over Illinois in the finals. They are 32-1 and have won 71 consecutive home matches. The Vikings are 18-5 and qualified for the championships with a Horizon league title match win over Illinois-Chicago. The title was the first in Cleveland State’s history.
The winner of the second-round match will advance to Tulsa, OK, which will play host to the final four rounds of the tournament at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center from May 16-20. The team emerging from Columbus will face the team from the Champaign sub regional that features No. 15 seed Illinois, as well as Drake, Louisiana State, and Xavier.
East Tennessee State, who enters the tournament ranked 41st in the most recent ITA poll, not only captured the conference tournament, but also went through the entire Atlantic Sun regular season undefeated. The Buccaneers had little trouble with Stetson in the title match, coming away with a 4-0 victory. East Tennessee State has captured the Atlantic Sun Tournament each of the last two seasons and enters NCAA Tournament play riding an eighteen-match winning streak. The Buccaneers have posted 16 shutout wins this season including blankings in each of their last eight matches. Their three losses have come to #4 Georgia (6-1) #28 Wake Forest (4-2) and #8 Tennessee (5-2) all on the road. No. 2 Ohio State is a perennial NCAA participant and one of six Big Ten teams to appear in this year’s bracket. They will look to improve upon last year’s quarterfinal finish. The Buckeyes were upset by conference rival Illinois in last year’s tournament. The Vikings, meanwhile, will be making their first ever NCAA appearance.
Notre Dame faced Ohio State earlier this season and fell 6-1 in match played inside the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Irish and Buccaneers meanwhile have never met in a regular season match, though the Irish did claim a 5-4 exhibition win over East Tennessee State in the fall of 1984. The first round meeting will mark the first time Notre Dame has ever squared off with a current member of the Atlantic Sun conference.
The Irish have been invited to 17 of the last 18 NCAA Tournaments, making them one of just 11 schools to have accomplished that feat, along with Duke, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Pepperdine, Stanford, Texas, TCU, UCLA, and USC. Bayliss is one of only three Division I coaches – along with Georgia’s Manuel Diaz and Duke’s Jay Lapidus – to have led his current team to at least 17 NCAA bids in the last 18 years. Notre Dame has reached the round of 16 in the NCAA’s on seven occasions, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 1992 and a 1993 quarterfinal result. The Irish lost in the opening round in both 2004 and ’05, but reached the round of 16 each of the last two seasons.
The Irish will be playing on the road to open the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, when they defeated Brown and then upset Texas A&M in College Station to advance to the round of 16. Overall the Irish are 16-16 in NCAA tournament play including 6-11 on neutral courts and 3-1 against teams playing on their home court.
Of Notre Dame’s 26 dual match opponents this spring, over half of them, (15) earned berths in the NCAA Championship: Virginia (No. 1 seed), Florida State (No. 14 seed), Wisconsin, Penn State, Boise State, South Florida, Kentucky, SMU, North Carolina (No. 12), UCLA (No. 3 seed), Duke, Michigan (No. 16 seed), Illinois (No. 15 seed), Tulsa (No. 11 seed) and Ohio State (No. 2 seed). The Irish went 7-9 against these teams (played Penn State twice).
For the ninth consecutive year, the NCAA Championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 31 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 33 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take place May 9-11 at 16 campus sites.
The draws for the NCAA Singles & Doubles Championships will be released Wednesday on www.ncaasports.com. They will take place May 21-26 at Tulsa, with 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams competing. Since 1989, Notre Dame competitors have garnered 24 invitations to the national singles tournament and 13 to the doubles event.
For more information on the NCAA tournament, including a full NCAA tournament notes package and match start times, check back with und.com as this information will be posted when it becomes available.