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No. 8 Women's Tennis Earns At-Large Bid to NCAA Tournament

Photo by Jonas Powell '18
Photo by Jonas Powell '18

NCAA BRACKET l NCAA DIGITAL PROGRAM 

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For the second time in program history, and first since the 2000-01 season, the Wesleyan University women's tennis team has qualified for the NCAA Championships after earning an at-large bid Monday afternoon. The Cardinals will play in second round action Saturday, May 14 at 11 a.m. after earning a first round bye. 

THE BASICS
The 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championship features 49 teams that will play a single-elimination tournament with the first, second and third rounds played at regional sites Friday-Sunday, May 13-15 or Thursday-Saturday, May 12-14. Kalamazoo College will host the team championships final, which will be held Monday-Wednesday, May 23-25 at Stowe Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

The field features 39 automatic qualifiers (conference champions), two teams from true independents and schools from conferences that do not have an automatic bid for their champions, and eight teams selected that did not win their conferences' automatic qualifier.

PREVIEW
Wesleyan, who ranks No. 8 in the latest ITA national team rankings, was selected by the women's tennis committe after posting an 11-5 overall record throughout regular season and conference tournament play. The Cardinals were one of six NESCAC teams to get selected to the NCAA Tournament, joining conference champions Williams and at-large bids Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury and Tufts.

The Cardinals are coming off their first NESCAC Championship win in program history, in which they defeated sixth-ranked Bowdoin 5-1 to advance to the semifinals. In its second round match, fifth-seeded Wesleyan fell to top-seeded Williams, 5-0. In addition to the Cardinals claiming their first conference postseason win, they also advance to the national postseason tournament for just the second time in program history, and first time in 15 seasons. Wesleyan first appeared in the NCAA Championships during the 2000-01 season and went 1-1 with a 6-3 win over Skidmore followed by a 7-2 loss to Little Three rival Amherst. 

Led by the 2015 Individual Singles National Champion, Eudice Chong '18, Wesleyan earned a first round bye and will play the winner of No. 14 Mary Washington and Simmons on Saturday, May 14 at 11 a.m. on the campus of Amherst College – the regional host. If the Cardinals advance, they would see either No. 7 Amherst, SUNY Geneseo or Ithaca in the third round Sunday, May 15 at 12 p.m.

Prior to the Cardinals loss against the Ephs, Wesleyan had won seven straight matches including wins over No. 17 Tufts (5-4), No. 28 Brandeis (7-2) and No. 6 Bowdoin (5-1). Chong and freshman Victoria Yu rank No. 1 and No. 9 in the country in singles play, respectively. Mary Washington won the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) title to qualify for the national tournament, and are 19-4 overall. Simmons captured its eighth straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship and are 10-8 in dual matches this season. However, the Sharks are coming off three straight losses entering the tournament.