STARKVILLE, Miss. – Austin, Texas, will be the site for the First and Second Rounds of the 2014 NCAA Championship for the 17th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-10, 7-5 SEC), as they earned their fourth-straight NCAA Championship selection on Tuesday.
The selection marks MSU’s 23rd appearance in the NCAA Championship in program history and the 19th bid in the last 24 years for the Bulldogs.
“I thought we had an incredible year, especially with having five new players on the team and a freshman playing at the top spot,” head coach Per Nilsson said. “At the beginning of the season, we would have been happy to be top 25, but we ended up better than that and I’m proud of the guys for doing everything that we asked them to do. Just to be in the tournament and have a shot is great for our program.”
Play will begin Friday, May 9, at UT’s Penick-Allison Tennis Center with the first match pitting 17th-ranked MSU against 62nd-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette at 10 a.m. CT. Following the Bulldogs and Ragin’ Cajuns, the seventh-ranked and No. 9 national seed Texas Longhorns battle the Marist Red Foxes at 1 p.m. The winners of the Friday affairs will then face each other in the second round matchup on Saturday, May 10, at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the NCAA round of 16 in Athens, Ga., on May 15.
“It’s going to be a fun first matchup against a former Bulldog [ULL head coach Mark Jeffrey],” Nilsson said. “I know he’s got his guys prepared after coming off of a good season.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns enter NCAA postseason play with a 20-4 record and having won their last 10 matches, including the Sun Belt Men’s Tennis Championship, their 10th tourney title in program history. Louisiana-Lafayette will be making its first appearance in the NCAA Championship since 2006. ULL is coached by former MSU All-American Mark Jeffrey (1988-91) who played with Nilsson on the 1991 Bulldog NCAA squad.
Hosting the First and Second Rounds in Austin are the Longhorns. Going 20-5 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12 for the 2014 campaign, UT won its seventh Big 12 regular-season title and its first in four years. The Longhorns are hosting after going a perfect 11-0 on their home courts in the regular season, while closing out their season with seven wins against top 25 foes and winning 12 of their last 14 matches.
Facing the Longhorns in the first round will be the Marist Red Foxes, who are the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champions. The Red Foxes captured their sixth-straight regular-season MAAC crown in 2014, while earning their 11th overall MAAC tourney title. Marist will be making its 11th NCAA appearance and sixth in the past seven years.
Selections for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be released Wednesday. The 18th-ranked State duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp will be looking to earn a bid to the doubles draw for the second straight year while true freshman Florian Lakat is hoping for a possible bid to the singles field. Play for the individuals is set to begin May 21 in Athens.
2014 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship First and Second Rounds
May 9-10, 2014 – Penick-Allison Tennis Center – Austin, Texas
5/9/14 - First Round
Match 1 (10 a.m. CT) – No. 17 Mississippi State vs. No. 62 Louisiana-Lafayette
Match 2 (not before 1 p.m. CT) – No. 7 Texas vs. Marist
5/10/14 - Second Round
Match 3 (1 p.m.) - Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner
Schedule subject to change