Baylor Men’s Tennis Earns NCAA Championships Selection

Posted at 9:18 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 22:18:01-04

WACO, Texas - For the 19th-consecutive year, the Baylor men's tennis team has been selected to the NCAA Tennis Championships, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

The 43rd-ranked Bears will travel to Athens, Ga., where they will take on No. 21 Florida State at 9 a.m. CT Saturday, May 14, in first round action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Seventh-ranked and seventh-seeded Georgia will host South Carolina State in the other first round match at noon CT. The winners of those two matches will then play on Sunday, May 15, at noon CT for a spot in the NCAA Round of 16.

"We've shown something this year,” head coach Matt Knoll said. “There was a time where we thought we'd be on the outside looking in, so it's great to be on the inside looking out. You've got to get in the tournament to win the tournament. What's happened so far doesn't really matter. We're just excited for the opportunity."

For just the seventh time in their 19 appearances, the third time in the last 14 years and the first time since 2012, the Bears will not host the opening two rounds of championship play.

BU is currently 15-13 on the season, after a 4-3 loss to No. 8 Texas Tech in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship.

"The thing I'm most gratified about is that we continue to improve,” Knoll added. “We're a way better team than we were a month ago, so I think going into the tournament our confidence level is sky high. I think we'll practice hard, we'll be up for it. We're going to be all in."

Knoll will be making his 19th overall trip to the NCAA tournament as a head coach with all of those coming in his 20 years as the leader of BU’s program. The Bears have made the Round of 16 in 14-straight seasons and 16 times overall, including 12 appearances in the quarterfinals, five trips to the Final Four (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2015) and two trips to the tournament final (2004, 2005). BU won the school’s first NCAA title in any sport in 2004.

Baylor is 52-17 in NCAA Championship play all-time and has only lost twice in the opening two rounds in 1998 and 2001.

The Bears currently have two singles competitors ranked in the latest ITA?rankings including No. 16 Julian Lenz and No. 99 Max Tchoutakian. BU has a pair of ranked doubles tandems in Lenz and Will Little at No. 26 and Tchoutakian and Tommy Podvinski at No. 80.

Florida State, ranked No. 21, will be making its 14th-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance. On the year, the Seminoles are 18-8 and lost 4-3 to No. 36 Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. BU is 2-1 all-time against FSU, including a 2-0 mark under Knoll with wins in 2006 and 2012. The Seminoles have two ranked singles players in No. 11 Benjamin Lock and No. 80 Marco Nunez. Those two players partner together to be the 15th-ranked tandem in the country.

The seventh-ranked and seventh-seeded Georgia Bulldogs (20-4) earned an automatic berth to the event by winning their fourth-straight SEC tournament title. It is the 38th NCAA Tournament appearance and the 33rd-consecutive NCAA bid for the Bulldogs. The Bears are 1-3 all-time against Georgia with the last series meeting coming in 2007. BU lost in 1999 and again in 2006 in the NCAA Championships against the Bulldogs. UGA has three ranked singles players in No. 15 Austin Smith, No. 32 Wayne Montgomery and No. 65 Paul Oosterbaan. Smith teams with Ben Wagland to make up the ninth-ranked doubles pairing in the NCAA.

South Carolina State (12-8) captured its eighth-straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship to earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. BU has never faced South Carolina State.

Georgia is one of 16-host sites around the country with the winner of each advancing to the final site of the NCAA Tennis Championships at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center in Tulsa, Okla. Team competition in Tulsa will be May 19-24, while the singles and doubles championship will take place May 25-30. Selections for those tournaments will be announced on Wednesday.

Stay up to date with men's tennis by following us on Twitter @BaylorMTennis.

Saturday, May 14 
No. 43 Baylor (15-13) vs. No. 21 Florida State (18-8) - 9 a.m. CT
South Carolina State (12-8) vs. No. 7 (7-seed) Georgia (20-4) - 12 p.m. CT 

Sunday, May 15
Winner of match 1 vs. Winner of match 2 - Noon CT