WACO, Texas -- The Trojans begin defense of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship Thursday at Baylor University’s Hurd Tennis Center.
Southern California (24-4) won its 21st men’s title last year with a 4-2 comeback win against Oklahoma at Athens, Ga. It marked the fifth championship in the past six years under the leadership of head coach Peter Smith. The Trojans also registered their 100th overall NCAA Championship.At this year’s tournament, USC is seeded seventh, while Oklahoma it the top seed at the 16-team event, which will be completed on May 19. Oklahoma (26-2), led by sixth-year head coach John Roddick, won a rematch last February in Chicago at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s Team Indoor Championship. The Sooners beat the Trojans by a score of 4-2 in the final.
“No. 1 Oklahoma got the draw they deserve,” Smith said of his opponent. “They were successful with the toughest schedule in the country. Everyone is trying to play catch-up to them. The strengths [of USC] are obvious. We have been here before, and I hope that will serve us well.”
USC beat Texas 4-1 in the 2014 NCAA quarterfinals, and Virginia by the same score in the semifinals. Oklahoma was a 4-2 winner against North Carolina in the quarters, and then beat UCLA by the same margin in the semis.
Host Baylor (23-5) is the No. 2 seed, Virginia (25-3) third and Illinois Fighting (27-4) is fourth.
The round of 16 begins Thursday at 10 a.m., with Oklahoma battling No. 16 UCLA (17-9), and No. 8 Georgia (23-4) taking on ninth-seeded Texas (21-6). The 1 p.m. matches feature Illinois against 13th-seeded North Carolina (23-10), and fifth-seeded TCU (23-7) paired with No. 12 Wake Forest (24-7).
Virginia meets Columbia (16-5) at 5 p.m., and No. 6 Texas A&M (23-4) plays Ohio State (27-8). Baylor opens against South Florida (21-6), and USC takes on No. 10 Duke (24-6) at 8 p.m.
The men’s quarterfinals will be played Saturday, and the semifinals on Monday. The championship matchup is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The 64-draw singles championship, and 32-team doubles tournament are slated for May 20-25, with the pairings to be announced. Last year’s singles champion, Marcos Giron of UCLA, turned pro. Alex Sarkissian, the singles runner-up, graduated from Pepperdine.
The top-seeded singles player is Axel Alvarez Llamas of Oklahoma, Baylor’s Julian Lenz is No. 2 and Mackenzie McDonald of UCLA is third. Oklahoma’s Andrew Harris is the No. 4 seed, and Sebastian Stiefelmeyer of Louisville is fifth. Søren Hess-Olesen of Texas, a 2014 semifinalist, stands at No. 6, Noah Rubin of Wake Forest has been seeded seventh and Virginia’s Ryan Shane rounds out the top eight seeds.
Tennessee’s Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese captured the 2014 NCAA Doubles Championship, defeating Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka. The Tennessee duo are seeded fourth this year, and Metka is paired with Ralf Steinback, seeded in the 5-8 category.
Georgia’s Ben Wagland and Austin Smith head the doubles list, while USC’s Roberto Quiroz and Yannick Hanfmann are seeded second. Shane and Luca Corinteli of Virginia hold a No. 4 seeding.