The NCAA field of 64 for both Men's and Women's Tennis were announced today. The women will go on the road to Atlanta as the #2 seed in the Georgia Tech Regional. The men will ride out to College Station for the Texas A & M Regional. The men were in contention for a hosting spot, but, as I've said before, our best argument was that we were hosed last year. Though, Louisville is hosting, even though they haven't beaten a damn body worth talking about since early February, a few days before they lost to Ole Miss. And Kentucky is hosting, even though they were seen most recently getting their colon violently reconfigured in the SEC Tournament by the Rebels. This is all to say, we had an argument, but there is nothing illegitimate about the men missing out on a regional host.
Them girls, the other hand, have a gripe. Ranked #16 in the country by ITA and coming off a hot streak to end the season (not to mention having the advantages of a premier facility with good fan support), Coach Beyers must have thought his team would have a bid. Not so. Meanwhile 16-8 Tennessee, losers to the women in the regular season, got the #13 overall seed. Finishing second in the SEC should get you a host site.
We'll preview the host teams and the Rebels' first round match-ups after the break.
Texas A & M had a great season in a great tennis conference. Four schools from the Big XII grabbed national seeds and host sites, including #3 Texas, #7 Baylor, #10 Texas A & M, and #14 Texas Tech. The Aggies lost a Big XII Tournament final 4-3 to eventual champs Texas. Like the Rebels they had success against teams in the Top 25, but struggled to get a Top 10 win until late in the season (eventually posting two wins over Baylor in the regular season and tournament). Now, the winner of the College Station regional will face off against the winner of Baylor's regional. By the transitive property, if Ole Miss can emerge from College Station, they should a sweet shot in the Round of Sixteen.
They are led by #10 nationally ranked singles player Austin Krajicek, who sports a 15-5 record over his last 20 matches. Even better, though, is a player who will likely line up on the 3 or 4 line, Alexey Grigorov, who is 3-0 at #3 singles and who was 12-1 in 13 matches at #4 before that. Needless to say, I know two Germans that are going to have their hands full with these Aggies.
A & M is also good in the doubles point, they have a 7-3 record over the last ten matches at doubles and won six of the seven matches where they took the doubles point. Finally, the Aggies and Rebels share common opponents - LSU and Louisville, who they both beat, and Ohio State to whom they both lost.
Texas Christian, who won the Mountain West Conference Tournament, will look to unseat the Rebels in the First Round. The Horned Frogs are 12-12 on the season, including their late-season upsets of Brigham Young and San Diego State in the MWC Tournament. Their best win on the season is that semifinal victory over the Mormons in the conference tournament.
However, their last match before that conference tournament was against regional foe, Texas A & M, which blanked the Frogs 7-0. This is all to say that beating Forth Worth Amphibians is a
frogone foregone conclusion.
The women will face the Anteaters of UC Irvine. Irvine beat Cal Poly, University of the Pacific, and UC Riverside to advance out of the Big West Tournament. They are 13-10 on the year and in games against traditionally strong Southern California, UCLA, and Stanford, the Anteatresses got smashed 7-0, 6-1, and 7-0, respectively. We don't let these California liberals come to the South and beat us in a traditional Southern sport like tennis. However, we appreciate that they dispensed with their P.C. bullshit long enough to use our proper athletic name in the headline on their very good website.
After they dispatch with Irvine, the women will likely meet regional host Georgia Tech. Irina Falconi, playing in the 1 line for Tech, is the top-ranked women's player in the country. Tech earned the ACC's automatic berth by winning the conference tournament with a thrilling 4-3 victory over #2 national seed North Carolina. The Tiddley Tots*, though, get a demerit for their announcement language:
The Yellow Jackets (18-9), who earned a spot in the field by winning the 2010 Atlantic Coast Championship last weekend, will host Austin Peay (18-3) Friday, May 14 at 1 p.m., while Mississippi (15-5) will meet UC-Irvine (13-10) at 10 a.m., in the other first round match at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
Have you absolutely no memory of what it is to be an SEC school? I mean, the freakazoids at UC Irvine got it right! C'mon!
Anyway, Fe-Bees have played a whopping 13 matches against Top 25 competition going 6-7, which isn't too bad. They have advanced to the Round of 16 in five straight seasons, winning it all in 2007.
Looking much more forward than I ought to, if the Lady Rebels can get passed this tough and peaking Tech team, they will likely face SEC Champion regular season and tournament champ Florida in the Round of 16, which begins two weeks from Thursday in Athens, GA.
*My grandmother, UGA '62, taught me this one they used to sing about students at an Atlanta all-girls schools, Agnes Scott, sung to the tune of the Tech fight song: "I'm a tiddley tot from Agnes Scott and I go with a boy from Tech / He took me to the Varsity and taught me how to neck / He filled me full of whiskey; he filled me full of beer / and now I am the mother of a bouncing Engineer." Oh, for the good old days of college athletics, when teen pregnancy and alcoholism were ... fun!