The NCAA men’s and women’s tennis championships begin play this weekend, and, for the first time in history, both champions will be crowned in North Carolina.
The final 16 teams in both brackets will head to the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem. After the team champions have been crowned, Wake Forest will also host the individual championships.
It’s the first time the state has hosted the men’s tennis championship since 1955, when they were held in Chapel Hill. In the 36-year history of the women’s championship, they’ve never been held in North Carolina.
It will be the fifth time that Wake Forest has hosted an NCAA championship in any sport. The school hosted the field hockey final in 1995, 2004, 2006 and 2009, winning the title on its home field in 2004.
“We are honored that Wake Forest has been recognized for its ability to host great events, and we look forward to continuing in that tradition with the 2018 NCAA Championships,” senior associate athletic director Bill Oakes said when Wake was unveiled as the host. “The Wake Forest Tennis Complex has become a destination for top collegiate and professional tennis in this country, and we are excited to once again bring a premier event to our community.”
A half dozen men’s teams and four women’s teams from North Carolina will be hoping to finish their season in Winston-Salem.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons received the top seed in the tournament and will be able to open and close NCAA play at home. It’s the second straight year that Wake has been the No. 1 overall seed, losing to UNC in the quarterfinals last year. The Deacs won the ACC Tournament and the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
Wake opens with Navy, with either South Carolina or Old Dominion following in a potential second-round matchup.
Wake is led by junior Petros Chrysochos, sophomore Borna Gajo and senior Skander Mansouri, who were all selected for the individual championships as well.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels received the No. 7 seed and will host the first two rounds, the fifth straight year that UNC has played host. Carolina has advanced to the quarterfinals or beyond each of the last four years, including earning national runner-up last season.
Tar Heel senior Robert Kelly, sophomore William Blumberg and freshman Benjamin Sigouin will also compete in the individual singles and doubles championships.
North Carolina will open tournament play surrounded by neighbors.
Campbell: The Fighting Camels won the Big South for the first time since 1992 and advance to their first NCAA tourney ever. Campbell is riding an eight-match win streak and faces host UNC.
“It’s a team we already played, so it’s a good opportunity to have a better result than the last time,” junior Gerard Sola said on the Big South website. The Tar Heels shut the Camels out in January.
UNC Wilmington: The Seahawks will also open play in Chapel Hill, against Tennessee after winning their second straight CAA Tournament title.
UNCW got knocked out of last year’s NCAA tournament by Wake Forest in the first round, and the team was thrilled to avoid the Deacs this year. “After playing the No. 1 team in the country, any opponent seems like an improvement,” coach Mait DuBois said.
NC State: The Wolfpack head to Austin, Texas, to play California. The advancing team will face the winner of No. 11 Texas and Bryant.
The Wolfpack entered the Oracle/ITF rankings for the first time in program history this season, posting a 16-7 record, the team’s best mark in six years.
“I feel like the guys are peaking at the right time,” first-year coach Kyle Spencer said. “We are nothing but excited.”
Duke: The Blue Devils will travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to open play against Ole Miss, with the winner getting either No. 4 Stanford or New Mexico State. Duke has lost three of its last four matches.
The Blue Devils advanced to the final 16 of the indoor championships earlier this year and hope to build on that success.
“We got to be in that environment — a final 16 feel, an NCAA feel,” coach Ramsey Smith said. “We got to see what the best teams do. I think that’s going to help us.”
North Carolina: The Tar Heels drew the No. 2 overall seed and will open at home against Morgan State, with the winner of Mississippi State and William & Mary in their path in the second round.
Duke: The No. 3 seed Blue Devils will host Furman and, assuming they win, the winner of Oregon and Tennessee. “Going into the season, one of the things you work for is being able to be at home for those first two rounds,” coach Jamie Ashworth said. “We did a good job of that, and we’ll be excited to play.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacon women will have to open play on the road, traveling to Athens, Ga., to face Arizona State. No. 7 Georgia or Georgia State await in round two.
NC State: The Pack earned their third straight NCAA bid and head to Los Angeles to face Baylor and, hopefully, either No. 12 UCLA or Fresno State.