May 7, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The 19th-ranked Vanderbilt women's tennis team will compete in its 15th straight NCAA Tournament this weekend as it travels to Urbana, Ill. for NCAA regionals. The Commodores (11-8, 6-4 SEC) will face regional host Illinois (18-7, 8-2 Big Ten) in the first round at 12 p.m. Saturday. The winner of Saturday's match will advance to the round of 32 to play the winner of Fresno State (22-5) and Eastern Kentucky (22-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday. Weather permitting, all matches will be played at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
The Commodores enter the NCAA tournament winners of six of its last nine, including wins over four top-30 teams. VU advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2009 SEC Tournament, posting a 4-0 win over No. 49 Mississippi State before falling to 15th-ranked Florida 4-2.
The `Dores prepared itself well for postseason play by playing some of the nation's top teams during the regular season, as 14 of its 16 opponents were among the 64 teams selected to the 2009 Division I Women's Tennis Championship. Vanderbilt was one of 11 teams from the Southeastern Conference selected to this year's field of 64, ranking the most among all Division I conferences.
Last season Vanderbilt advanced to its 11th-straight Sweet 16 after staging an incredible 4-3 comeback win over Kentucky in the second round. VU trailed 3-2 before Caroline Ferrell and Catherine Newman rallied the team to a 4-3 comeback win over the 23rd-ranked Wildcats. After dropping the first set 6-0 to UK's Carolina Escamilla, Newman was on the heels of defeat and trailed 6-5 in the second set before staging an unbelievable comeback to force a third set. Leading 3-2 in the third set, Newman broke Escamilla's serve to take a 4-2 edge and than won the final two games to clinched the match and propelling the `Dores to another Sweet 16.
This season marks the first time in over a decade that Vanderbilt will play the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament away from Nashville. The Commodores are 32-14 all-time in the NCAA Championships under current head coach Geoff Macdonald. In addition, Vanderbilt is 13-1 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Following the regular season, Vanderbilt's Catherine Newman and Jackie Wu were selected to the second-team All-SEC team while Courtney Ulery was named to the SEC Women's Tennis Community Service team. It marked the third straight year that Newman has been named All-SEC while Wu garnered all-conference honors in her first collegiate campaign. Both Newman and Wu have spent time ranked in the top 30 in singles by the ITA this spring.
The 34th-ranked Fighting Illini are making its second consecutive and ninth overall post season appearance in school history. Last season, No. 36 Illinois fell 4-0 to No. 25 Tennessee in the first round. Illinois has advanced to the second round twice, in 2001 and 2003. The Illini finished third in the Big Ten Conference race during the regular season going 8-2 in league play and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
Individually the Illini are led in singles by redshirt-sophomore Leigh Finnegan (21-11) and junior Megan Fudge (28-7). Fudge currently holds a No. 75 national ranking while Finnegan is ranked 103rd in singles. Both Fudge and Finnegan were selected to the All-Big 10 team at the annual Big Ten banquet.
The teams will play a single-elimination tournament at 16 first and second-round sites (four teams at each site) and the finals site (16-team bracket) to determine the national champion. The matches shall be regulation dual matches with three (3) eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six (6) singles matches, each valued at one team point, played best of three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at eight games all in doubles and at six games all in singles.
Live stats of Saturday's match between Vanderbilt and Illinois will be available on www.fightingillini.com, or by clicking here. See above for NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament Central for up-to-the minute updates.
NCAA Regional Information-- May 8-10
Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, Urbana, Ill.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
No. 16 Fresno State (22-5) vs. Eastern Kentucky (22-5) 9 a.m.
No. 19 Vanderbilt (11-8) vs. No. 34 Illinois (18-7) 12 p.m.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Winner of match 1 vs. Winner of match 2 1 p.m.