Dawgs Earn 18th-Straight NCAA Tourney Bid
SEATTLE – For the 18th year in a row, as long as some of the current Husky freshmen have been alive, the Washington men’s tennis team has earned a spot in the NCAA Championships. The Huskies will be on the road to Malibu, Calif. at the regional site hosted by seventh-seeded Pepperdine, where UW will face North Carolina State in the first round on May 11.
The 64-team field includes 16 regional sites where the top-16 seeds host first and second round matches. The winners of the four-team pods move on to Athens, Ga., where the 16 teams will continue competition for the NCAA title from May 18-22, at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
On Friday, May 11, the Huskies and Wolfpack will face off at Pepperdine’s Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center at 11 a.m. Pacific time. That match will be followed by Pepperdine taking on Green Bay at 2 p.m. The winners of each match will play Saturday, May 12, at 12 noon for a spot in the round of 16.
“We haven’t played North Carolina State since I’ve been coaching, so that’s great,” said Head Coach Matt Anger, who has seen UW to the postseason in all of his 18 seasons. “I think all of our guys are excited just to be playing someone different.”
For the first year, a new rule prohibits conference opponents from meeting in the first two rounds, which has created more diverse match-ups. “We’ve come through the conference season, had our conference tournament, and many times stayed on the West Coast at Pac-12 sites in the NCAA Tournament,” said Anger, “so while we’re still on the West Coast, it’s a totally different opponent and I think the guys really like that.”
Washington heads into the tournament with a 16-8 record, a 3-4 Pac-12 regular season mark and a quarterfinal appearance in the Pac-12 Tournament last week. The Huskies were ranked 26th in the most recent ITA national poll. The Wolfpack were most recently ranked 39th with a 20-9 record. Pepperdine is the tourney’s No. 7 overall seed and was ranked seventh by the ITA.
Assessing the regular season, “For sure we’ve seen progression with our singles throughout the season,” Anger says. “I would say our doubles has been up and down. We make two strides forward then take a stride back. We’ve changed things up, but I like our potential. We’re not there yet, but I think we can be decent out there with the doubles. Definitely we’ll be spending some time on that the next week and a half, and just keep working.”
The Huskies already visited Malibu once this season, losing to the Waves, 7-0, in a match that saw four singles matches go three sets. Washington has faced 11 teams from the NCAA tourney field, going 5-8 in those matches with wins over Michigan, Cal Poly, Tulsa, and two wins over Louisville.
Coach Anger does not feel that familiarity with the Waves’ home courts will mean much come May 11. “The courts there are pretty fair. Weather conditions are usually fair. You don’t get anything out of the ordinary, so it’s pretty easy to adapt to the facility,” he says.
In the 18 seasons of Anger’s tenure, Washington has made the NCAA tournament every year, with five trips to the round of 16, the most recent one coming in 2006.
Friday, May 11 | First Round
Match #1 | Washington vs. North Carolina State | 11 a.m.
Match #2 | Pepperdine vs. Green Bay | 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 12 | Second Round