The UC Irvine women’s tennis team might have come short in its hopes of capturing the Big West Title, but they will have a chance to play for something bigger next week, the NCAA Championships.
Despite holding the No. 1 seed and playing some of the best tennis toward the end of the season, the Anteaters were upset in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament to Cal Poly.
‘We were all really upset, it was a tough loss to take,’ said junior Inna Agababian. ‘We’ve had so much success this year up to that point; no one really believed it was possible until it actually happened.’
The loss put UCI’s playoff aspirations in jeopardy as the winner of the tournament would have received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UCI had to hope for an at-large bid by the selection committee and when the announcement came last Tuesday, it was nothing but good news.
For the first time in school history, the Anteaters will compete in the 64-team NCAA Tournament after completing an impressive 21-4 overall record this season.
UCI will match-up against the University of Texas in the first round on Saturday May 12 at 9 a.m. on the campus of USC.
Head Coach Mike Edles, who was recently named Big West Coach of the Year, said his team was ready for the challenge.
‘We’re very excited to be selected for the NCAA’s,’ Edles said in a press release. ‘This is what we play for all year.’
It has been an impressive season for UCI, one which included an undefeated record in the Big West Conference, an 11 game winning streak and numerous wins against higher ranked opponents.
‘We’re all really excited and hoping to do well in the tournament,’ Agababian said. ‘It was one of our biggest goals for this year and we’ve managed to accomplish it.’
Texas is ranked No. 30 in the country, posted an overall 15-9 record this season and finished in a tie for first place in the Big 12 Conference.
UCI has not played Texas this season and many of the players on the team are not looking past their first round opponent.
‘It is really important to take one match at a time,’ said Junior Jessica Broadfoot. ‘Although it is an honor just to be selected in the tournament, we will not settle. Texas is only ranked four spots ahead of us. This is a great opportunity for us to display our team talent on the national level.’ The winner of the Texas-UCI match will move on to the round of 32 to take on the winner of the USC and Boston University game.
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