The men’s and women’s tennis teams gathered today inside Dodge Fitness Center to receive their seedings and regional brackets for the NCAA Tournament.
For the No. 18 men’s team, which had earned an automatic bid by winning the Ivy League, it was a question of what, not if. Players and fans alike were excited to hear that the men had received the No. 16 seed, which means that the team is the highest seed in its region. In the first round, the Light Blue will face No. 65 East Tennessee State University, which, like Columbia, swept its conference slate. If the team can capture a win in its first match, it will face the winner of the match between No. 40 Virginia Tech and No. 21 Vanderbilt, which in particular could be a very tough test for Columbia. The Commodores boast the No. 20 singles player Gonzales Austin, and Austin and his doubles partner Ryan Lipman are ranked No. 3 in the country.
Although the Lions narrowly wedged themselves into the top 16, the matches will still be hosted by Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., from May 9 through May 11. If Columbia can grab a pair of victories in Tennessee, it will take a spot in the round of 16 and play for the national championship from May 15 to May 26 in Athens, Ga.
Meanwhile, the No. 40 women’s tennis team was not guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid of its own but earned an at-large bid for its first-ever NCAAs appearance. The Light Blue is set to take on No. 32 Kentucky in Charlotesville, Va. Host No. 7 Virginia and Youngstown State, are the other teams in the region.
A pair of Indonesia natives, Aldila Sutjiadi and Nadia Ravita, headline the Wildcats lineup. The duo is the No. 54 ranked doubles team in the country and have alternated the top two singles positions for most of the season.
The winner of the Columbia-Kentucky match will play the winner of the Virginia-Youngstown State match. The Cavaliers are coming off their first-ever ACC Championship and boast a formidable tandem of their own in No. 4 Julie Elbaba and No. 36 Danielle Collins, the ACC Championship MVP. The Penguins meanwhile won the Horizon League Championship to qualify for their first-ever NCAA Tournament, but are heavy underdogs against Virginia.
The team that captures two victories will also advance to the round of 16 in Athens from May 15 to May 26.