Men's Tennis Receives At-Large to NCAA Tournament Field
April 29, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
The No. 23 University of Memphis men’s tennis team (13-4) should be comfortable with their first round match at the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship, Friday, May 9th, at 1:00 p.m (CT). The Tigers will face No. 39 Drake (22-5), a team they have played in each of the past two seasons, and they will play at the University of Illinois, the same site Memphis played at last year in the NCAA Round of 16.
Memphis and Drake have squared off in each of the past two seasons in a neutral site tournament in San Diego. It’s been the Bulldogs who have swept those last two meetings, both times knocking Memphis in to the third place match of the tournament. After downing Memphis 4-1 last year, Drake defeated the Tigers this year at the tournament, 4-3, in a match that came down to a tiebreak at number three singles.
“I still like our draw,” Head Coach Paul Goebel said. “Yes, we’ve lost to Drake the last couple of years in tight matches, but we are familiar with them, we are going back to a facility we know, there’s a lot to be comfortable with.”
The first round match will be played at the University of Illinois. The host Illini will face Ball State in the other first round match at the four-team regional site at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 9th. The winners of each first round match will square off at 3 p.m., Saturday, May 10th.
“We know that facility after going there last year for the NCAA Round of 16,” Goebel said. “You know you’re going to play at a top caliber facility. We can play outside, but they also have the indoor facility if we need it due to weather, so that makes for a comfortable feeling about the draw we have. But we know it’s a big challenge. Drake has a lot of experience on their team, similar to us. They have lots of English players on their team, so do we. They have an assistant coach from England, we do too. There are a lot of similarities. It’s going to be a great college tennis match.”
Drake is one of four conference championship teams the Tigers have faced this season. The Bulldogs, who were upset in the conference finals last year, won the Missouri Valley Conference championship last weekend, defeating Wichita State, 4-0. Drake is coached by Davidson Kozlowski, whose background also adds to the familiar feel for the Tigers. Kozlowski was an assistant coach at UAB for seven seasons before taking over the Bulldog program prior to last season. He has also hired a pair of former UAB players on his coaching staff with him at Drake. With both UAB and the Tigers having a history in Conference USA together, the two teams know what to expect in Champaign.
This is the Tigers’ third straight NCAA appearance and their second at-large bid in three seasons. Memphis has appeared in three straight conference finals and had a five-match winning streak snapped in the conference championship final on Easter Sunday.
In all, Memphis has faced nine teams in the regular season that qualified for this year’s NCAA tournament, posting a 5-5 record against those teams (the Tigers faced USF twice, splitting the series with the Bulls). Fellow American Athletic Conference members USF and Louisville also qualified for the tournament field, USF as the league’s automatic bid recipient.
Tickets for the First & Second Round matches can be purchased at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex starting one hour prior to the first match of the day. Cost for adults is $5.00 and it is $3.00 for students.