The Lewis-Clark State College men’s and women’s tennis teams will face tough first-round opponents at nationals as judging by the official brackets which were released by the NAIA on Tuesday. Both the men’s and women’s national championships will be held May 18-22 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
The LCSC women will open against tournament host the University of Mobile, while the men will play St. Thomas University. Both matches are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 18 with the women playing at 9 a.m. and the men at 1 p.m.
"We have run into some formidable opponents along the way [this season]," said LCSC head coach Kai Fong. "The national competition will not be anything unfamiliar."
Each tournament consists of 24 teams and the top eight seeds received first-round byes. The top eight seeds don’t jump into action until Wednesday.
Last year the women ran over first-round opponent Indiana Wesleyan 8-1, but this year’s first round opponent could prove to be a little harder to shake. Besides home court advantage, Mobile brings a record of 17-5 to its sixth straight trip to nationals. The Warriors, after playing multiple NCAA D-I schools and ranked NAIA squads during the season, hold a record of only 6-12 as they make their 14th consecutive appearance at nationals and 17th overall.
Mobile, which was ranked No. 21 in the final poll, exited in the first round of last year’s tournament with a 7-2 loss to Northwood University. The Warrior women were knocked out in the second round at the hands of, then top-seeded, Auburn Montgomery 5-0.
"We played the University of Mobile a few years back in the first round," said Fong. "It is always tough to play the host team with its supporters around."
The LCSC men, which look to rebound from a 6-3 first-round defeat to Berry College last year, enter the tournament ranked No. 18 and with a 9-15 mark. This is the Warriors’ 11th straight appearance at nationals and 20th overall. Despite this beings its first appearance at nationals in school history, St. Thomas should prove to be a challenge as it is ranked 15th and holds a record of 11-5.
"St. Thomas is a new team for us to play, but these are the kinds of challenges we like to face."
While each LC squad will play stiff competition in the first round, the teams waiting to potentially take on the Warriors in the second round could prove to be even stiffer.
If they both win, the women will face second-seeded Fresno Pacific in the second round, while the men will play second-seeded Auburn Montgomery.