Florida tennis teams enter NCAA play

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 8:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 8:23 p.m.

The Florida men's and women's tennis teams will open NCAA Tournament play in the state.

But only the Gator women will get to stay on their home courts.

Florida's fourth-ranked women's tennis team will host first and second-round NCAA Tournament action beginning May 12 at the Ring Tennis Complex while UF's No. 19-ranked men will travel to Florida State, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

Florida's women (21-2) face Jacksonville University (19-3) in its first-round match May 12 at 10 a.m. The other first-round match will feature Florida International (19-4) vs. South Florida (15-7). The winners meet May 13 at 1 p.m. in the second round.

Florida's men (13-7), meanwhile, will travel to Tallahassee and face Georgia Tech (7-15) on May 11 at 1 p.m. No. 16 Florida State (16-9) will face Manhattan in the other first-round match with the winners meeting May 12.

The draw was not exactly what Gators men's coach Andy Jackson was hoping for. Jackson said prior to the SEC Tournament that a win over Alabama would likely be enough for his team to earn the right to host for the first time since 2005. The Gators did beat the Crimson Tide, but were sent to Tallahassee nonetheless.

Still, Jackson said he was glad his team doesn't have to travel far.

"We are excited to have made the NCAA Tournament," Jackson said. "It is something that is earned and is an honor. We know most of the players from Georgia Tech and the match will be a real challenge for both teams. It is certainly an advantage for us to play in the state of Florida and we are eager for our chance to play well."

The season marks the 17th consecutive year that Florida's men have received an NCAA Tournament bid.

The Gator women, meanwhile, have hosted first and second-round matches every year since the NCAA expanded its field to 64 teams in 1999. This year, the field in Gainesville has a decidedly Florida feel. And it will not be easy for the Gators.

JU enters the tournament riding a 16-match win streak after capturing the Atlantic Sun Conference title to earn its first NCAA bid.

South Florida, meanwhile, stunned No. 2-ranked Notre Dame, 4-3, in the final of the Big East Tournament on April 22 to become the first USF program to win a Big East title in any sport.

"The state of Florida has always been a hot-bed for tennis and we will get to showcase a lot of that talent in the four teams that will be competing in Gainesville," Florida women's coach Roland Thornqvist said. "It is always an honor to be selected to host the opening rounds and is something we take very seriously. We will need to be at the top of our game to advance."

Sixteen teams were selected to host the NCAA first and second rounds on campus sites around the country for both the men and women. The winners of each of the regionals advance to Athens, Ga., for the NCAA Round of 16 and beyond. The University of Georgia is hosting both the men's and women's championships, beginning May 17.

The announcement of the participants for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships will be announced today.

NCAA tennis championships

Florida women

What: NCAA tournament first and second rounds

When: May 12-13

Where: Ring Tennis Complex, Florida campus

Schedule: UF (21-2) vs. Jacksonville (19-3), 10 a.m.; South Florida (15-7) vs. Florida International (19-4), 1 p.m.; Winners meet May 13 at 1 p.m. in the second round.

Florida men

What: NCAA tournament first and second rounds

When: May 11-12

Where: Scott Speicher Tennis Center, Tallahassee

Schedule: Florida State (16-9) vs. Manhattan (12-6), 10 a.m.; UF (13-7) vs. Georgia Tech (7-15), 1 p.m.; Winners meet May 12 at 1 p.m. in the second round.

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