May 1, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 18th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s tennis team has been tabbed to head to Evanston, Ill., for first and second round matches in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the NCAA selection committee announced Tuesday. It is the second straight year in which the Irish will head to Northwestern for the opening rounds.
The Irish join Hawai’i and Akron in travelling to Northwestern, where the 13th-seeded Wildcats will serve as host. First round matches will take place on May 11 with the two winners meeting in the second round the following day (May 12). The Irish will square off with Hawai’i in the opener, while Northwestern and Akron will collide in the other matchup.
Notre Dame makes its 17th consecutive and 19th overall appearance in the NCAA Championship. The Irish earned the BIG EAST Conference’s automatic bid after winning their fifth straight league title on April 22 with a 4-1 victory over USF.
Notre Dame has reached the NCAA Round of 16 on 10 occasions and advanced to the quarterfinals or further in 1996, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Last season, the Irish reached advanced to the second round in Evanston before dropping a 4-0 contest to the host Wildcats.
The Irish enter the tournament ranked 18th in the country according to the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) polls after putting together a 20-7 record, including earning victories over four top-25 opponents and winning their last six matches.
After not having met since the ’08 season, the meeting with the Rainbow Wahine in the first round will mark the second matchup of the season between the Irish and Hawai’i. In the previous meeting this season, Notre Dame posted a 6-1 victory. Overall, the two teams have met five times with the Irish holding a perfect 5-0 record. Hawai’i qualified for the tournament after claiming the WAC title with a 4-3 victory over Fresno State. The Rainbow Wahine finished the year with a record of 14-6 overall and ranked 61st nationally.
Notre Dame and Akron have met once times in program history with the Irish holding a 1-0 advantage but the two teams have not met in the Louderback era. The lone matchup took place back in 1985 with Notre Dame prevailing 9-0. Akron earned the MAC’s automatic bid after claiming the tournament title with a 4-3 victory over Miami (Ohio). The Zips finished the year with a 24-3 record, posting the most wins in a single season since 1990-91.
Notre Dame and Northwestern have met 38 times with the Wildcats leading the series, 27-11. The two teams squared off once earlier this season, with Northwestern escaping with a 4-3 victory. The two squads also have played four times in the NCAA Tournament with the Irish claiming one of those four meetings. In their most recent postseason tussle, Northwestern prevailed 4-0 in ’11. Northwestern earned an at-large selection after finishing the year with an 18-8 record and ranked 11th nationally.
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 11-12 at 16 campus sites. The later rounds of the single-elimination tournament will be held in Athens, Ga., May 17-22.
The draws for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be announced Wednesday.