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May 10, 2011

Maroons receive at-large bids for national championships

Men’s and women’s tennis both learned that they had received at-large bids to the NCAA regional tournaments yesterday. Both teams were informed of their selection during yesterday’s NCAA selection show. Despite both teams being ranked top 10 in the country, neither received automatic bids. This was due to national qualification guidelines, which state that only conference champions are allowed to receive automatic bids.

The women’s team, hampered by injury, fell to Emory in the conference finals. The men were upset by rival Wash U in the conference semi-finals. The women will begin action at Stagg Courts on Saturday 2 p.m., playing the winner of the Luther/Penn State–Behrend match, while the men will travel to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, playing on Saturday against the winner of the Grinnell/UW-Eau Claire matchup.

Although both men’s and women’s teams are the top seeds of their respective regions, only the women’s team plays at home due to the difficulty of both teams hosting the regional at the same site. In spite of the circumstances being less than ideal, the women’s team is pleased to host the regional.

“We’re definitely excited to host regionals again this year,” third-year Jennifer Kung said. “We don’t get to play very many home matches, so it’s always nice for our friends to be able to come out and see us compete.”

Although the women’s team swept both Grove City and Wash U in last year’s regional, this year they will have to probably pass a strong Gustavus Adolphus squad in the regional final. Although Gustavus Adolphus has dominated in the MIAC with a 10­—0 record, they haven’t fared well against national calibur copetition, sporting only a 3—5 record.

“We haven’t played Gustavus yet this year, but they always have a strong team in singles and doubles, so we can’t overlook them even though we are the favorites,” Kung said.

The men, being the favorites of their regional, feel confident going into Saturday’s match, in spite of a season-ending injury that caused first-year Zsolt Szabo to be sidelined.

“The draw we have isn’t that bad,” fourth-year Kunal Pawa said.

Both teams look to pass through this weekend’s regional action in order to play on Tuesday, May 24, in Claremont, CA for national quarterfinals.

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