May 4, 2011
Men's Tennis Draws No. 6-Ranked Georgia in 2011 NCAA Tournament
The Samford men's tennis team learned its 2011 NCAA Tournament destination Tuesday at the athletic department's Selection Show Party held in the Pete Hanna Center. The Southern Conference Tournament champion Bulldogs will compete in the Athens, Ga., regional and will face sixth-ranked Georgia at noon (CDT) on Friday, May 13 at the Dan Magill Tennis Center.
"Our guys are really excited about the trip," said Samford head coach Kemper Baker. "We have a lot of Georgia guys on our team, particularly from the Atlanta area, and Scott Foster is from Athens. His father actually played tennis there, so it's great for us because it will be really easy for the families to come out and support us. In terms of venues in college tennis, it just doesn't get any better than the Dan Magill Tennis Center.
"I would equate the Magill Center to Notre Dame's football stadium or Bryant-Denny Stadium or Rupp Arena in basketball. It's the legendary venue in college tennis and they've hosted a lot of NCAA Championships. I'm really excited that our guys will get the opportunity to play in Athens and close to their families, but to also play in front of the University of Georgia crowd. It's a tough crowd, but a very fun environment, so I'm excited for them."
Samford (19-6) will be making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in four seasons and will play Georgia (20-5) for the first time in school history. In 2008, Samford qualified for the NCAA Tournament and was sent to the Tallahassee, Fla., regional where the Bulldogs met Florida State in the opening round of the Field of 64.
"Georgia's going to be a tough place to play, but we know a lot of guys on their team and we've played them quite a bit growing up," said Samford senior Oliver Reynolds. "We know what we need to do and we need to go in there with an open mind. We have a really good team and towards the end of the season we've been playing really well. We just need to try and carry that into the NCAA Tournament.
"For Carl (Abalos) and I, we both played in the NCAA Tournament as freshmen, so we kind of know what to expect. We've also taken over the leadership role on the team and that's helped because we know the pressure that everyone's under. This year, we can help some of the younger guys know what we're trying to go towards and try to accomplish here. I think if we can get everyone in the right mindset then we can use our confidence to play our best tennis against Georgia."
Also competing in the 2011 Athens Regional will be Auburn (15-9) and UNC Wilmington (21-4). The winners of the two first-round matchups will face off Saturday at 2 p.m. (CDT) for an opportunity to reach the Round of 16 being held at Stanford's Taube Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif., May 19-24.
Samford heads into the NCAA Tournament in the midst of a five-match winning streak. The Bulldogs have not been defeated since a hard-fought 4-3 setback at Appalachian State on April 10. Since then, Samford has rattled off consecutive victories against Wofford, Furman, Appalachian State, Elon and College of Charleston.
The Bulldogs' wins over Appalachian State, Elon and College of Charleston all occurred in the SoCon Tournament. Elon was the top-seeded team in the four-day competition, while College of Charleston was the No. 2 seed and Appalachian State was the fourth-seeded squad in the 11-team event.
"We ended the season playing some of our best tennis and now what we need to do is take inventory on what worked for us and what has helped us to have some success in the SoCon Tournament," Baker said. "We also need to honest and fair about what our shortcomings are and try to go into Athens and really bring all of our assets to the table. Hopefully, over the next week or so, we can strengthen some of our liabilities and we can enter the NCAA Tournament as a little bit of a better team."
Georgia - the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular-season champion - is making its 33rd overall appearance in the NCAA Championships. The Bulldogs have reached the final match in three of the last five seasons and are coming off a trip to the national semifinals in 2010.
"Samford is always a very good team," said Georgia head coach Manny Diaz. "They have a lot of Athens and Atlanta kids on the team. They are talented and very deserving of a trip to the tournament."
The Samford University men's tennis team will begin play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Friday, May 13 at noon (CDT) as the Bulldogs are slated to square off against the sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at the historic Dan Magill Tennis Center. Ticket information to the tournament can be found at www.GeorgiaDogs.com, and also by clicking on the link below.
2011 NCAA Tournament
Athens Regional - University of Georgia
SCHEDULE OF PLAY
Friday, May 13
MATCH 1: 9 a.m. - Auburn vs. UNC Wilmington
MATCH 2: Noon - Georgia vs. Samford
Saturday, May 14
MATCH 3: 2 p.m. - Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2