Newcomers and oldtimers face off
Sixteen teams eye Division II men's tennis title
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Regionals are done, the field is set. It’s time to serve a title.
Sixteen teams will battle for the 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championship this week in Surprise, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb known as the spring training host of several Major League Baseball teams.
Round of 16 matches begin Wednesday at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex. Eight teams kick off the championship round at 10 a.m. ET, followed by the opposite half of the bracket at 1 p.m.
Four quarterfinal matches follow on Thursday, with the semifinals on Friday. The national title match is Saturday at 11 a.m. The NCAA championship round is hosted by the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission and Grand Canyon.
Top-ranked Barry arrives in Arizona hotly pursued by second-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State. The two traded the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top Division II team ranking at the end of the regional finals, with the Barry Buccaneers leapfrogging the Armstrong Pirates.
The Pirates, the defending national champions, are targeting their fourth NCAA title in six years. Senior Georgi Rumenov is the top-ranked DII men’s singles player. Four of his teammates also are ranked: senior Matus Mydla is fifth, senior Dan Regan is 11th, sophomore Sven Lalic is 16th and junior Pedro Scoguglia is 29th. Rumenov and Regan are the top-ranked Division II doubles team, per the ITA.
Though top-ranked for the first time this season, undefeated Barry has some catching up to do. The Bucs have only one national title (2010) to go with three runner-up finishes (2008, 2009 and 2011) in the last five seasons. Perhaps this is the year.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Barry head coach George Samuel said of his squad. “I'm just so pleased with this season. It’s been incredible.”
Barry (25-0) meets Northwood (17-4) first, while Armstrong (24-1) will play the NYIT (16-8). Northwood is 32nd in the ITA rankings. The NYIT Bears are playing in their first NCAA Round of 16.
Third-ranked West Florida (24-1) meets Bluefield State (21-3) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. It is the Argonauts’ 12th Round of 16 appearance since joining DII in 1997. They lost to Armstrong in last year’s national title match. Junior Bruno Savi is ranked third in DII singles, while Senior Kevin Ducros is ranked eighth. The two form the fourth-ranked DII doubles team.
Fifth-ranked Hawaii Pacific (19-3) will play West Virginia Wesleyan (13-5) on Wednesday. Hawaii Pacific finished as the national runner-up in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Junior Petr Michnev is ranked second in singles.
Wednesday’s other early morning matches pit 24th-ranked Northwest Missouri State (20-3) against sixth-ranked Concordia (N.Y.) (18-2), and 16th-ranked Cameron (20-3) against ninth-ranked Lander (16-3).
The other afternoon match-ups are 37th-ranked Southwest Baptist (11-10) against 17th-ranked Midwestern State (19-5), and 14th-ranked UC San Diego (13-11) against 31st-ranked Southern Indiana (17-4.).
It’s a varied bunch, experience-wise, in the men’s DII bracket. Cameron and Southwest Baptist are in the championship round for the first time since 2008, Northwest Missouri State for the first time since 2007 and Midwestern State for the first time since 2006 and and Lander is back for the first time since 2003. Bluefield State is back for a consecutive season. UC San Diego earned its 12th bid in the last 13 seasons, while both Southern Indiana earned its first Round of 16 bid.