Florida Tennis Teams To Host NCAA First and Second Rounds
Gainesville, Fla: The University of Florida men's and women's tennis teams both were chosen as one of 16 hosts of their respective NCAA First and Second Round Championship matches, the NCAA Committee announced on Tuesday afternoon from Indianapolis.
The event will run from May 10 to 12 at UF's Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
The Gator men will host two first round matches on Friday, May 10 and a second round contest on Saturday, May 11, while the women will play their first round matches on Saturday and the second round on the Sunday, May 12. The winning team from each of the regionals advances to Urbana, Ill., for the NCAA Round of 16 and beyond.
This season the University of Illinois plays host to the combined men's and women's tournament from the round of 16 through the final. The men's Round of 16 begins on Thursday, May 16, while women's action gets underway on Friday, May 17.
The Gator women, who are the two-time defending NCAA champions, received the No. 1 seed in the 64-team draw. Florida (22-2) faces Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champion Marist College (11-7) for the first time in program history in its NCAA First Round contest on Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. ET. The other NCAA Women’s First Round match played in Gainesville features No. 22-ranked Georgia Tech (14-9), which earned an at-large berth after finishing fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), versus No. 37-ranked and Ivy League automatic qualifier Yale (17-3) on Saturday at 10 a.m.
The winning teams from those first-round matches meet in the second round on Sunday, May 11 at 1 p.m
UF has hosted first and second round matches every year since the NCAA Women's Championships expanded its field to 64 teams in 1999.
The Florida women's team is making its 31st appearance in the 32-year history of the NCAA Championships, missing only the 1986 event. The Gators won NCAA team titles in 1992, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2011 ad 2012 and have advanced to at least the NCAA Semifinals 21 times in the last 25 years.
“We play really well at home and we’re excited to host the opening rounds of the NCAA Championship again,” said UF women’s head coach Roland Thornqvist, who has guide the Gators to the 2003, 2011 and 2012 national championships. “It will be final time for our two seniors Lauren (Embree) and Caroline (Hitimana) to play here in front of our crowd and I hope our fans will come out to support them and the rest of the team.
“Our players are use to having that bulls-eye on their back,” said Thornqvist of being the No. 1 seed. “That’s one of the neat things of this year is that almost all of our players have played up a position or two in the lineup from year’s past so not only have they had to adjust to playing with the bulls-eye that we feel like we have every time we play, but doing so playing up in the lineup and our players have handled that well.”
The Florida women’s team is one of nine SEC schools in the 2013 field, with Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss also being chosen to play host to a regional as the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 9 seeds, respectively. Of the other 15 seeds, the Gators faced six of them during the regular season. Florida played 17 of its 24 matches this season against teams that made the NCAA Tournament field of 64 and posted a 15-2 record versus those clubs.
The Gator men, ranked No. 15 with a 15-10 overall record, will host the first two rounds on May 10-11, holding the top seed in the Gainesville regional. Florida will play Denver (11-11) in the opening round with the winner of the match to face the winner of 18th-ranked Cal (14-9) and Florida State (18-10).
“We are really looking forward to the NCAA Tournament,” said men’s head coach Bryan Shelton. “This is the time to show just how far we have come this year. It's great to have a week and a half still to prepare for the tournament. Having the opportunity to host the first two rounds is a big deal to our team and our fans. We have had tremendous support throughout this season from our boosters and our community, and we are counting on them to help us advance.”
Florida faces Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after the Pioneers claimed the WAC Championship to claim the conference’s automatic bid. Cal earned an at-large bid after finishing tied for second in the Pac-12. Florida State also earned an at-large bid after finished tied for seventh in the ACC.
The Gators are one of eight SEC teams to host a regional on the men’s side, joined by third-seed Georgia, sixth-seed Ole Miss, seventh-seed Tennessee, eight-seed Kentucky, 10-seed Mississippi State, 12-seed Texas A&M and 16-seed Vanderbilt. Alabama, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina also made the field of 64.
The announcement of the participants for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be held on Wednesday, May 1, with the names of the individuals selected posted to the www.NCAA.com no later than 6 p.m. ET.