OXFORD, Miss. -- The Ole Miss women’s tennis team got the news they were hoping for when the NCAA 64-team bracket was revealed Tuesday on NCAA.com. The Rebels are the No. 16 seed and will host the first and second rounds at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
This marks the first time since 1999 for the women to host the NCAA first and second rounds. They came close two years ago, but finished one spot out of the top 16. That year the Rebels ended up advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since ’99.
Coming to the four-team regional is Southern University, Rice and Illinois. Illinois and Rice will meet at 11 a.m. Friday, May 11, followed by Ole Miss against Southern at 2 pm. The final will be Saturday May 12 at 3 p.m.
“It’s been too long, so we are very excited. We’ve been so close a couple of times. I am very excited for the girls,” head coach Mark Beyers said. “Next week is kind of a stressful week with final exams. Being able to be at home and not having to leave three days early and reschedule exams is really big. We had such a great atmosphere here for the SEC Tournament, and I expect more of the same for the NCAAs. With the guys hosting, it should be a fun weekend of great tennis action.”
The men will begin action Saturday, May 12 with Binghamton at Noon. Before that, Middle Tennessee and Michigan will square off at 9 a.m. The men’s final will be Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m.
The women ended the regular season ranked No. 16 in the nation with a 17-8 record. The Rebels have won six of their last seven and reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the third time in four years.
The Rebels’ first round opponent, Southern, won their third straight SWAC title to earn an automatic bid. Rice (16-8) earned their first NCAA selection since 2006, receiving an at-large bid out of Conference USA. Illinois (18-7) is making their fourth NCAA appearance in five years, earning an at-large bid out of the Big Ten.
This marks the first time hosting for Rebel seniors Kristi Boxx, Abby Guthrie and Gabby Rangel, who have helped lead Ole Miss back to national prominence during their careers. Boxx and Rangel are also set to graduate next weekend.
“We worked really hard for this, so to finally be able to host our senior year is special,” Rangel said. “We’re going to take full advantage of it and hopefully advance to the next round. You have an advantage being at home with the crowd support and playing on your own courts. At the same time, all the other teams have nothing to lose and will come out firing. We have to be prepared for that. We’ll be ready.”
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