Dec. 7, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s tennis team has been selected to participate in the 2006 USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 17-20, in Seattle, the ITA office announced. The event, which features 16 of the nation’s best teams, will be hosted by the University of Washington. The Gamecocks will enter the tournament as the No. 12 seed.
“We’re obviously delighted to play in the National Team Indoors,” said USC Head Coach Kent DeMars. “(The tournament) selects the best teams in the country and we are thrilled that our peers think we’re one of the best 12 teams in the nation. Our players knew that we were going to be close to making the cut, and I’m sure they’ll be excited about it, especially with three free matches [not counting against the NCAA limit of 25] that can’t do anything except help you. None of them have ever been there before and it’ll be a real delight and challenge to play in a great location like Seattle. We think we’ve got a good team and a chance to beat some of those guys up there. Our players will be anxious to get another chance to show what we’re all about.”
The 16-team field is set by taking the highest ranked team from each region and the next seven best teams from around the country. An automatic bid is also extended to the host institution. In order to receive an at-large bid, a team must be ranked in the preseason Top 12 by the ITA.
The field is highlighted by 2004 NCAA Champion and 2005 National Team Indoor Champion Baylor. USC was the third team to receive a bid from the Mideast Region. Virginia captured the region’s automatic and was joined to Duke and South Carolina. The Southeastern Conference once again solidified its status as the best men’s tennis conference in the nation, placing five teams in the field, including No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Georgia, No. 6 Ole Miss and No. 10 LSU.
The bid to the National Team Indoors Championships is South Carolina’s first since the 1999 season. The Gamecocks knocked off eighth-ranked Pepperdine, 4-3, before falling to No. 4 Ole Miss and eventual NCAA Team Champion Stanford in that tournament. Carolina has made nine previous appearances at the Championships, going 11-16 in all matches, with wins over schools such as Pepperdine, Southern Cal, UCLA, LSU and Harvard.
USC’s scheduled matches against UNC-Asheville and Charleston Southern on Feb. 19 have been postponed and will be made up at a later date.