OXFORD, Miss. - With the 2012 season in the books, the Ole Miss women's tennis team is already looking forward to 2013 with the announcement Wednesday that the Rebels are one of 15 host sites for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kick-Off Weekend.
This marks the first time for the Rebels to host this event, which began in 2009 as a prelude to the ITA National Team Indoor. Sixty teams are competing for one of 15 spots in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship to be held Feb. 8-11 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
The top 15 nationally-ranked teams in the final 2012 ITA National Rankings were chosen as host sites; however Florida and Stanford (ranked No. 1 and 5 respectively) do not annually participate in this event and Virginia earns an automatic spot as the host of the National Team Indoor Final 16.
Ole Miss will welcome Illinois, Vanderbilt and Yale to the Gillom Sports Center. First round matches will be played Sunday, Jan. 27, and second round matches will be played Monday, Jan. 28. The winner of both matches advances to the National Team Indoor, something the Rebels accomplished this past year, defeating Texas A&M and host Florida State to reach the National Team Indoor Finals for the first time since 2000.
The Rebels ended the 2012 season ranked No. 18 nationally--marking the program's third top 25 finish in four years--and hosted the NCAA first and second rounds for the first time since 1999. Ole Miss also finished among the top four in the overall SEC standings for the second time in three years.
Three seniors are gone to graduation, including two All-Americans, but the Rebels will return five of the top seven from this year's team. The list of returnees features All-SEC performers Caroline Rohde-Moe, Erin Stephens and Julia Jones in addition to sophomore Vivian Vlaar and Iris Verboven. Also returning is Paige Keating. The team will add Russian native Santa Shumilina, who joined the Rebels in January and will be eligible in 2013, and Swedish standout Marija Milutinovic who signed this spring and will arrive in the fall.
Ole Miss will serve as a dual gender site for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, as the Rebel men will also host Jan. 25-26.
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