ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Familiar faces are in familiar places as the 2014 NCAA Division II Women’s Tennis Championship begins Round of 16 competition at Sanlando Park in suburban Orlando, Florida, this week.
The presence of top-ranked Barry and No. 2-ranked Armstrong Atlantic is no shock considering the latter is the defending champion and the former was Armstrong Atlantic’s semifinal opponent a year ago. Positioned on opposite sides of the bracket, Barry and Armstrong Atlantic could meet again with a title on the line, but too much tennis remains to declare it.
Wednesday’s opening matches feature six of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top-10 ranked teams. The first four opening-round matches begin at 8 a.m. ET, with the second four scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Thursday’s quarterfinals, Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s national title match all are set for 9 a.m. ET.Barry's first challenge is No. 42 Indiana (Pa.). Barry (24-1) meets the Crimson Hawks (19-9) at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Barry is appearing in its fifth consecutive and 19th overall NCAA tournament. The Buccaneers beat West Florida to win the South Region 1 and hope to add a second NCAA crown. The Bucs’ only title thus far came at 2011 at Sanlando Park. Indiana (Pa.) beat West Virginia State to win the Atlantic Region 2 and Round of 16 berth.
The three other matches on Barry’s side of the bracket are No. 5 Hawaii Pacific and No. 16 Midwestern State, No. 9 Columbus State and No. 46 Lewis, and No. 21 Southwest Baptist and No. 35 Concordia (N.Y.).
Fifth-ranked Hawaii Pacific (18-6) beat No. 13 Academy of Art to win the West Region 2 -- the eighth consecutive time the Sea Warriors have made the Round of 16. Their opponents, Midwestern State (23-3), beat Colorado Mesa to win the South Central Region 1.
Columbus State (21-4) is making its third consecutive and sixth overall trip to the Round of 16. The Cougars beat Georgia College to win the Southeast Region 2. Lewis (16-4) beat No. 22 Drury to win the Midwest Region 1. The Flyers are in the Round of 16 for the second time in the past three seasons.
Southwest Baptist (22-3) and Concordia (14-7) also face off in Wednesday’s 10:30 a.m. ET bracket. The Bearcats won the Central Region 1; the Clippers won the East Region 2.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Armstrong Atlantic (25-1) kicks off the final phase of its latest title quest against No. 41 Wayne State (Mich.) on Wednesday. The Pirates, who won the Southeast Region 1, seek their third consecutive Division II title and seventh in 10 years. Their dominance during that span includes titles in 2005, 2008-10 and 2012-13. This time, they’re armed with Aleksandra Filipovski, the top-ranked Division II singles player (No. 2) still in the tournament. Filipovski also teams with Barbara Kritckova to form Division II’s top-ranked doubles team.
Wayne State (25-4) won the Midwest Region 2 and is making its first Round of 16 appearance.
Other matches on the 8 a.m. ET side of the bracket are No. 3 BYU-Hawaii against No. 6 Saint Leo, No. 12 California (Pa.) against No. 20 Northeastern State, and No. 11 NYIT against No. 17 St. Mary’s (Texas).
BYU-Hawaii, the PacWest champions, is an undefeated 26-0. As the reigning Division II runners-up, the Seasiders are looking to recapture an earlier dominance. They won seven NCAA titles during nine years (1999-2007) and have finished second in the tournament the past two seasons. Saint Leo (20-5) beat Lynn to win the South Region 2. The Lions also are the first Saint Leo women’s team to compete at this level.
California (14-2) won the Atlantic Region 1 while Northeastern State (23-5) won the Central Region 2. California is in the Round of 16 for the eighth consecutive year; Northeastern State is in for the second consecutive year.
NYIT (24-5) won the East Region 1. The Bears are making their second consecutive Round of 16 appearance. St. Mary’s (16-4), however, is having a historical season. The Rattlers are in the NCAA tournament for the first time and won the South Central Region 2.