No. 22 Men's Tennis On the Road To NCAA Regionals
May 6, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
The University of Memphis men's tennis team, ranked No. 22 in the country in the latest ITA poll, departs Wednesday morning for the University of Illinois for the NCAA Men's Tennis Regional round being hosted by the Illini, Friday and Saturday.
Both first round matches at the Illinois regional are rematches from earlier meetings this season. The day's first match will feature the Tigers against No. 45 Drake, a rematch of the semifinal match between the two teams back on March 21st at the San Diego/Hilton Invitational. Drake won that match-up with the Tigers, 4-3, as the match came down to a 7-6 tiebreaker decision at No. 3 singles. Drake came back from dropping the doubles point to drop Memphis in to the third place match for a second straight season with wins at 2, 3, 5 and 6 singles. Memphis is 0-3 all-time against the Bulldogs, having faced them in each of the past three seasons.
This is the Tigers' third consecutive NCAA berth after Memphis advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 from the University of Mississippi Regional last year with wins over BYU and Ole Miss. This is Drake's eighth NCAA championship appearance and the Bulldogs are coming off their first-ever NCAA first round victory, as they defeated TCU in the NCAA first round last year before falling to No. 1 seeded UCLA in the UCLA Regional final.
The second match of the day will pit the host Illini against Ball State, also a rematch from earlier this season. Illinois won that first match-up with Ball State, 4-0.
Tickets for the event are $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. Spectator parking is available east of the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex off Goodwin Avenue. Spectators can enter the Khan Outdoor Tennis Center from that lot. (Driving Directions Here).
After not making the NCAA tournament field in the program's first 62 years, the Tigers have now made three straight tournament trips. Last year's run to the Round of 16 marked the Tigers' first-ever NCAA first round tournament win (vs. BYU). Memphis then upset #7 Ole Miss, 4-2, in Oxford, Miss., to advance to the Round of 16.
There's a lot of familiarity about the Tigers' first-round match up against Drake. The two teams have squared off in each of the past two seasons in the San Diego/Hilton Invitational in California. Both times, Drake has upended the Tigers in the semifinal round, dropping them to the third place match (Memphis won both third place matches). Memphis also knows both the indoor and outdoor facilities at the University of Illinois, as Memphis faced #12 Pepperdine on the same courts in the Round of 16 last year, falling 4-2.
Memphis has been ranked in the national team rankings all season, with a season-best ranking of No. 18 (Jan. 29 & Feb. 8, 2014).
Memphis has had five different entries earn national rankings during the year.
The Tigers grabbed four American Athletic Conference all-conference honors in a vote of the league coaches:
Connor Glennon becomes the first Tiger in school history to earn two first-team all-conference honors.
This senior class will leave Memphis as the most-decorated in school history. The four four-year seniors are 65-28 in dual season play. When Connor Glennon and David O'Leary were added to the core of Cedric De Zutter, Grimal, O'Hare, and Salisbury, Memphis made its first move in to the team national rankings in 2011. Memphis broke in the Jan. 4, 2011 rankings at #58 and spent six weeks in the team rankings. That marked the first time since 2006 that Memphis had been ranked in the team polls.
Since then, the Tigers have spent 46 straight rankings periods in the polls, including a program-best ranking of #18 earlier this season (Jan. 29, Feb. 4).
Five different Tigers have been recognized by the American Athletic Conference with their weekly/monthly player awards this season.
Joe Salisbury was named Player of the Week two times (Apr. 8 & Feb. 5, 2014) and shared a Player of the Month honor with doubles teammate David O'Hare in October of 2013. David O'Leary was the first Tiger to win a weekly honor from the Tigers' new conference, grabbing the award on Jan. 28, 2014. Connor Glennon won the weekly honor on Mar. 25, 2014 and Johnny Grimal won the last award of the 2014 season on Apr. 15, 2014.
Ian Chadwell joined the Memphis roster in January of 2014. Chadwell, who played two years at Alabama before having to quit playing tennis due to foot injuries, returned to the courts in January after being away from tennis for two years. He has since teamed with Johnny Grimal for an almost unstoppable duo at No. 3. Since January, the duo is 17-1 overall and is 14-1 at No. 3 doubles. Their one loss? A 8-7(2) loss on the road at No. 6 Baylor back on Mar. 22nd. (Click here to read the Memphis Commercial Appeal's article on Chadwell's comeback.)
Senior captain David O'Hare answered the Davis Cup call for his native Ireland back in January, becoming the first Tiger to represent his home country in Davis Cup play. O'Hare teamed with James Cluskey and played a long doubles match in the first round tie with Belarus in Minsk, coming up just short, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-2.
While the Tigers head to Illinois to try to punch a ticket to Athens, Georgia, for the NCAA Team Championships, two Tigers are already Athens-bound. The doubles team of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury qualified for the NCAA Doubles draw, becoming the first doubles team in school history to earn their way to the NCAA field.