By: Nick Whitley, Texas A&M Athletics Communications
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 10 Texas A&M women’s tennis team earned an at-large bid into the 64-team field for the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship and will open the tournament as the No. 10 overall seed with a first round match on Friday, May 7th against the Drake Bulldogs at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center in Evanston, Illinois, announced by the NCAA Monday evening. First serve time will be announced when it becomes available.
The winner of the match between the Aggies and the Bulldogs will face off against the winner of host-Northwestern and Xavier in the second round on Saturday, May 8th. The second-round winner advances to the Round of 16, scheduled to take place at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, beginning on May 16th.
The Maroon & White (19-7) are making their 21st consecutive and 26th overall NCAA Tournament appearance in 2021, one of the most successful track records in women’s college tennis. This will be head coach Mark Weaver’s fifth tournament selection in as many opportunities, with the only vacancy coming in 2020 after the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Weaver has won at least one match in every NCAA Tournament in which he coached and has advanced to the Round of 16 on two prior occasions.
This season proved to be one of the most successful in program history, as the Maroon & White saw their best regular season finish in five years coupled with the team’s first SEC Tournament Finals appearance last month. On the courts, the Aggies are headlined by No. 23-ranked Tatiana Makarova, who holds a 23-6 overall record and garnered All-SEC First Team honors following a 10-0 regular season performance in league play.
Texas A&M’s most recent tournament appearance in the 2019 campaign saw the Aggies advance to the Round of 16 following an impressive performance in both the First and Second rounds. A&M battled to secure a 4-3 victory over the Rice Owls and followed that success up with a stunning 4-1 rout of the archrival Texas Longhorns in Austin to advance. The Aggies fell to the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, Tennessee to finish the season. As a program, the Aggies saw their best NCAA Tournament finish in 2013, where the team reached the Championship Final match, falling to the Stanford Cardinal in a 4-3 finish.
The Drake Bulldogs enter the tournament with an 11-8 overall record and represent the Missouri Valley Conference as the league champion and automatic qualifier. The team entered the conference tournament with an 8-8 record and fell behind with a 2-3 regular season conference mark before storming through the MVC Tournament.
The No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats will serve as the host team in the first and second rounds, earning an at-large bid out of the Big Ten Conference and boasting an 18-5 overall record. Northwestern went 17-4 against Big Ten opponents this season.
Xavier comes into the 2021 tournament with a 17-3 overall record and will represent the Big East Conference as the league’s champion and automatic qualifier. The Musketeers went undefeated against Big East opponents in their abbreviated conference campaign.
Out of the 14 Southeastern Conference member institutions, Texas A&M joins 12 other SEC programs in making this year’s tournament field. The SEC has the most tournament qualifying teams (13) by a wide margin, with the next-closest, the ACC, tallying nine. The 13 SEC programs with seeds in parentheses are Georgia (3), Texas A&M (10), Florida (11), LSU (12), Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Mark Weaver
On earning the program’s 26thNCAA Tournament Selection…
“It’s always an honor to be selected to the NCAA Tournament. I believe this is number 21 in a row for us, and it definitely hasn’t come easy. All the hard work that our group has put in this year allowed us to know that we would comfortably be selected into the field. Being seeded No. 10 overall in the NCAA Tournament has to make you feel really good about how the season has gone. We will just take it one match at a time, and we look forward to playing against Drake on Friday.”
NCAA FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS
Vandy Christie Tennis Center – Evanston, Illinois
Friday, May 7
No. 10 Texas A&M (19-7) vs. Drake (11-8) – First Serve TBD
No. 19 Northwestern (18-5) vs. Xavier (17-3) – First Serve TBD
Saturday, May 8
Texas A&M/Drake winner vs. Northwestern/Xavier winner – First Serve TBD
TEXAS A&M AT THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
TEAM APPEARANCES……… 26 (1986, ’89, ’96, ’97, ’98, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19, ’21)
ALL-TIME TEAM RECORD… 27-25
BEST FINISH……………………. NCAA Championship Final (2013)
HIGHEST SEED………………… No. 3 (2013)
Texas A&M is appearing in its 26th overall and 21st consecutive NCAA Championship.
A&M achieved the highest finish in program history in 2013, appearing in the NCAA Championship Final
In their last NCAA Tournament appearance, the Maroon & White defeated Rice in a 4-3 affair and breezed past the arch-rival No. 9 Texas Longhorns to appear in the program’s seventh Sweet 16.
A&M is one of 13 teams representing the SEC in the NCAA Championship. Other SEC teams, with seeds in parentheses, are Georgia (3), Florida (11), LSU (12), Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Stanford is the two-time defending national champion.
North Carolina is this year’s No. 1 seed.
Texas A&M is 10-5 against the 2021 tournament field, with wins coming against Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, with two wins apiece against both South Carolina and Auburn.
NCAA Individual Championship participants in both the singles and doubles competitions will be posted on NCAA.com tomorrow, Tuesday, May 4th.