Men’s tennis team could make history

USI has received the top seed in the NCAA Division II Preliminary Round men’s tennis tournament, which the Eagles will host at their courts. They also got a bye in the first round, so will play Sunday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the Saturday match between No. 4 Ferris State University, which is from the GLIAC, and No. 5 Rockhurst, which is from the GLVC. The other Preliminary Round matches take place at second-seeded Northwood University, a GLIAC school that will face the winner of the match between third-seeded Drury University of the GLVC and sixth-seeded Ohio Dominican University of the GLIAC. The winners of each preliminary tournament advance to the round of 16 at the NCAA Division II National Championship in Surprise, Arizona.

An interesting side note: I was not able to find anywhere on USI’s web page the last time the Eagles won an NCAA tournament match as a team. It doesn’t appear USI has EVER won an NCAA match. Turns out apparently that USI has won in the tournament. Got a tweet from a Ryan McDaniel that the Eagles, under coach Chris Crawford, have won two NCAA matches, in 2010 and 2011. He also says that the previous NCAA tournament win was in 2005 and, later, he tweeted that this is the first time USI has hosted an NCAA tournament in men’s tennis and was ranked No. 1 in the region (as the top seed, of course). And the team has never been to the Sweet 16. By the way, this is the 10th time that the Eagles have received an NCAA berth, including each of the last four years.

It’s been an amazing run for USI over the past 15 years, especially under the coaching of Jon Mark Hall (now USI’s athletic director) and Crawford. Hall guided the Eagles to five GLVC titles, including four straight tournament championships during his tenure from 1996 through 2002. Crawford, who played for Hall, has led USI into the NCAA tournament in each of his four years as coach, starting in 2010; before that, the Eagles had played in the NCAA tourney just twice.

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