With the regular season well in the rearview mirror, the 18th-ranked Mississippi State men’s tennis team (19-7) will head to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the First and Second Rounds of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship after earning its fifth-straight NCAA Championship selection on Tuesday.
Play will begin Friday, May 8, at North Carolina’s Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center with the first match pitting 18th-ranked MSU against the No. 51 Denver Pioneers (18-8) at 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. CT). Host North Carolina, the No. 13 national seed, and William & Mary will follow, starting no later than noon. The winners of Friday’s matches will then face off in the second round matchup on Saturday, May 9, at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT), for the right to advance to the NCAA Round of 16 in Waco, Texas, on May 14.
“We’re looking forward to this challenge and fighting our way to the next stage of the NCAA Championship,” first-year MSU coach Matt Roberts said. “Denver is a tough opponent, but our guys are focused. We’re locked in and ready to get going. We feel we’re in a good place right now in our game and have a chance to make a deep run.”
Tuesday’s bid to the NCAA Championship marks MSU men’s tennis’ 24th appearance in program history and the 20th selection in the last 24 years for the Bulldogs.
State’s 19 wins this season (11 coming over ranked opponents) tie for the seventh-most in program history. The Bulldogs finished third in the powerful Southeastern Conference with an impressive 9-3 mark, including notable home wins over No. 6 Georgia and No. 13 arch rival Ole Miss in the midst of a five-match SEC winning streak. The Bulldogs also reached the semifinals of the SEC Championship, defeating No. 17 Florida in the quarters.
The Pioneers come into Chapel Hill after capturing their second-consecutive Summit League title. Denver has won nine of its last 10 contests as well. The Pioneers are entering their third-straight NCAA Championship and their fourth overall in school history. Individually, the Pioneers are led by No. 109 Diogo Rocha and No. 113 Henry Craig. In doubles, Craig teams up with Alex Gasson for the 40th-ranked duo in the nation.
UNC will host a regional for the seventh time in program history and has made the NCAA Championship for the 36th time overall. The Tar Heels return to the NCAA Championship after missing the field last season. In their last appearance in 2013, UNC made a run to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the second time in history.
William & Mary (16-12) punched its ticket to the 2015 NCAA Championship thanks to capturing the Colonial Athletic Association Championship. The Tribe will be making its first appearance in the Championship since 2007. This will be their fourth appearance in the NCAA Championship under head coach Peter Daub since he took over in 1994. William & Mary is no stranger to postseason success, as it is one of just five schools to have won multiple NCAA men’s tennis titles.
“This is a tough regional with a group of solid teams at all four spots,” Roberts said. “I’m proud of my guys for making it to this stage and ready to get out there and compete.”
Selections for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be released Wednesday. The eighth-ranked State duo of Julian Cash and Florian Lakat will look to continue their strong season with their first bid to the doubles championship. Lakat, ranked No. 60 nationally, will also be seeking his second-straight showing in the singles championship. Play for the individuals are set to begin May 20 in Waco.
For more information on Mississippi State men’s tennis and updates, fans can follow the Bulldogs on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at HailStateMT.
2015 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship – First and Second Rounds
May 8-9, 2015 – Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center – Chapel Hill, N.C.
5/8/15 – First Round
Match 1 – 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. CT) – No. 18 Mississippi State vs. No. 51 Denver
Match 2 – Not Before 1 p.m. ET (Not Before Noon CT) – No. 13 North Carolina vs. William & Mary
5/9/15 – Second Round
Match 3 – 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) – Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner**
**-winner advances to NCAA Round of 16 in Waco, Texas, on May 14
schedule subject to change
(From MSU Media Relations)