Men's Tennis preview: NCAA Regional Championships
AUSTIN, Texas -- Third-seeded Texas, the Big 12 Conference Champion, opens play in the 64-team NCAA Tennis Championships on Saturday, May 13 at its hosts the NCAA regional first and second round at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center. The Longhorns (22-3) open the regional at noon CDT against Ohio Valley Conference Champion Tennessee Tech (13-11). Conference USA runner-up Rice (18-7) takes on Sun Belt Conference Champion Louisiana-Lafayette (16-6) at 3 p.m. CDT. Admission is $5 per day for adults and $3 for youth and UT students.
Live scoring will be available for each match at TexasSports.com.The two first-round winners will meet in the NCAA regional final on Sunday, May 14 at 1 p.m. CDT. The regional champion advances to the NCAA Tennis Championships' round of 16, slated to begin on Saturday, May 20 at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center.
The Texas men will make their 24th appearance in the NCAA Tennis Championships. UT scored its best overall finish in 1993, when the Longhorns reached the national semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Southern California. Texas holds a 21-23 tournament record.
Texas and Tennessee Tech will meet for the first time on the tennis courts. The Longhorns hold a 7-0 series lead over Louisiana-Lafayette and a 57-16-7 overall advantage against its former Southwest Conference rival, Rice.
Texas met Rice in a lengthy match last month in Houston. Rice dealt Texas a 5-2 defeat to snap the Longhorns' 14-match win streak. Notably, Texas has faced Rice in two of the last three NCAA regional championships in which it has participated. The Longhorns defeated the Owls in 2003, when Texas last hosted a NCAA regional event, en route to the round of 16. In 2005, Texas opened the NCAA tournament with a 4-3 win over Rice at the NCAA regional in Waco.
Texas features ninth-ranked sophomore All-American Travis Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan.). The Big 12 Player of the Year, Helgeson totaled a 28-11 overall singles record and a 15-7 mark in dual-match play. Helgeson added another honor yesterday as he was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) South Central Region Player to Watch, awarded to the student-athlete who displays the most potential to make a long run in a national singles event, such as the NCAA Singles Championships.
Seniors Callum Beale (Adelaide, Australia) and Roger Gubser (Laredo, Texas) will join Helgeson at the NCAA Singles Championships beginning Wednesday, May 24 at Stanford. Beale totaled a 15-9 dual-match record on his way to All-Big 12 singles honors, while Gubser tallied a 19-4 dual-match mark, including a 6-0 record in conference play, to pick up his first All-Big 12 singles selection. The 2006 ITA South Central Region Senior Player of the Year, Gubser now ranks sixth on UT's all-time wins list with 102 victories.