No. 9 Bulldog Tennis Selected As Host For NCAA First/Second Rounds
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's ninth-ranked men's tennis squad (19-6) learned Tuesday that it has been selected as a host for the 2012 NCAA Championship First and Second Rounds. State will host the event Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on campus.
Play will begin Friday, May 11, with the first match pitting 28th-ranked Baylor against 32nd-ranked Memphis at 11 a.m. CT. Then, at 2 p.m. that afternoon, No. 9 MSU will meet the Alcorn State Braves. The winners of the Friday affairs will then face each other in the second round matchup on Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. for the right to advance to the NCAA round of 16 in Athens, Ga., on May 18.
MSU received the No. 9 overall seed in the 64-team NCAA Men's Tennis Championship, which concludes with four rounds in Athens, Ga., May 18-22. It is State's highest overall seed since being the national No. 4 in 1998.
"We are really excited to get the NCAA's started," head coach Per Nilsson said. "Our guys are happy that we were rewarded for such a solid season by getting to host, but now we have to prepare for some really tough matches ahead."
Coming into Starkville as the 17-32 alphabetical seed is Big 12 member Baylor. The Bears finished a solid season at 17-11 after falling to top-seeded Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship final. Baylor downed eight ranked opponents on the year, including SEC champion Kentucky on the road. The Bears earned a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships in February after downing Florida State in the ITA Kickoff Weekend final. BU, making its 15th straight NCAA appearance, won the national crown in 2004.
Baylor's first round match-up will be the Memphis Tigers, a 33-48 seed nationally making their first-ever appearance in NCAA competition. On the year, Memphis posted a remarkable 19-5 record while finishing 5-1 in Conference USA. The Tigers earned an impressive seven wins over ranked opponents this season, all on the road and two of which came against SEC members and in-state foes Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
The final team entering MSU's site will be the Alcorn State Braves, a 49-64 seed nationally. Hailing from Lorman, Miss., the Braves earned a spot into the NCAA Tournament by taking their second-straight (and eighth overall) SWAC Championship with a win over Prairie View. Earning a 10-8 overall record this season, Alcorn State has earned its second-straight bid into the NCAA Championship and sixth overall.
Tickets for the NCAA event at MSU may be purchased in advance or on each day of the tournament. An all-tournament pass is $8 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, college students, and children under 17. Single-day tickets for Friday and Saturday are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, college students, and children under 17. Fans interested in purchasing advance all-tournament tickets may do so by contacting the Mississippi State Athletic Ticket Office (662-325-2600 or 1-888-GO-DAWGS) beginning Thursday, May 3. They can also be ordered online at www.hailstate.com/tickets.
This is the second year in a row for MSU to make the NCAA Championships and the program's 21st appearance overall. Last year was the Bulldogs' first bid to the tournament since a 2005 berth in Durham, N.C. As a top 16 national seed, MSU hopes to earn its way to the round of 16, a feat the program has accomplished 10 times in its impressive history, but has not done so since 2001.
State is hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA's for the first time since the bracket expanded to regional play in 1999.
The Bulldogs enter NCAA action at 19-6 overall and 9-2 in SEC play, both State bests since 1998. The Bulldogs earned their second consecutive outright SEC Western Division Championship in 2012 as well.
Selections for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be released Wednesday. Several Bulldogs are expected to earn bids to the individual draws.
2012 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships, First and Second Rounds - May 11-12, 2012
A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre - Starkville, Miss.
5/11/12 - First Round
Match 1 (11 a.m. CT) - Baylor vs. Memphis
Match 2 (not before 2 p.m. CT) - Mississippi State vs. Alcorn State
5/12/12 - Second Round
Match 3 (2 p.m.) - Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner