CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston senior and 2013 Southern Conference Player of the Year Christin Newman (Greensboro, N.C.) likes her Cougars’ chances this weekend.
The No. 71-ranked CofC women’s tennis team will open first-round play at No. 16-seeded and No. 17-ranked Texas Tech as the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship gets underway on Saturday, May 11 at 3 p.m. (ET) at the Don and Ethel McLeod Tennis Center in Lubbock, Texas.
The Cougars (20-8) and Lady Raiders (19-6) are evenly matched, and this year, CofC goes into the tournament as the highest No. 4 seed in the country – a compliment to what CofC Director of Tennis Angelo Anastopoulo has built over the last five years – a dynasty of sorts in the SoCon.
The winner will advance to take on either No. 15-ranked Duke (14-9) or No. 37-ranked Ole Miss (16-13) in second-round action to be held on Sunday, May 12 at 2 p.m. (ET). Live tournament scoring will be available at: www.TexasTech.com.
CofC has never advanced past the first round in its six all-time NCAA Tournament appearances. Texas Tech is the lowest-seeded team of those first-round matches as the Cougars fell at No. 6-seeded Georgia (L, 1-4) in 2012 and No. 13-seeded Tennessee (L, 4-1) in 2011. Newman & Co. are hungry to become the first squad in school history to do so – and it’s not too far-fetched.
“We have a chance,” said Anastopoulo, who has recruited some of the top five-star recruits to CofC in recent years. “As we did our research in preparation for Texas Tech, our players were ranked in the juniors the same as they were. We have five-star players and they have five-star players.
“However, they have had a great year and haven’t had the injuries that we’ve had. We will certainly have to be at our best to come out victorious on Saturday. I like saying that, ‘we have a chance to be victorious, than be competitive.’ We are going down there to win a match and are anxious to see what happens.”
The Cougars are 4-1 all-time against Big 12 Conference opponents having beaten Iowa State (4-3) and No. 44 Oklahoma (4-3) in February and March of 2012 as well as Kansas (4-3) during the regular season. They previously lost to No. 36-ranked Oklahoma (5-2) in 2010 and beat No. 27-ranked Kansas State (5-2) in 1996.
“It’s very exciting to go away and play an NCAA Tournament match in the state of Texas,” Anastopoulo said. “We’ve had success against teams from the Big 12. We are not intimidated by them. We know Texas Tech has an incredible team. They have had incredible results this year and are going to be very good in doubles.”
The Cougars are currently on a nine-match winning streak heading into postseason play and claimed a conference-record fifth-straight SoCon Tournament title under Anastopoulo.
“They (Texas Tech) are no Georgia and there are no (Georgia All-American) Chelsey Gullickson’s who have won individual national titles,” Newman said. “Everyone on their line is very talented, but none of them are unbeatable. For us, that is huge. Our strength is our depth and so is theirs. I’ve seen so much fight out of this team. To be able to play a first-round team near our talent level – we definitely feel like we have a shot at it compared to in recent years (at Georgia or Tennessee). We can fight and win a match, even if a team is better than us.”
The winner of each four-team tournament site will advance to the NCAA Round of 16 hosted by the University of Illinois on May 17-21 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill.
For Newman, already one of the most decorated players in program history, she hopes to leave her mark on even more records and set more milestones.
“It’s all I could have asked for,” said Newman on her final year with the Cougars after transferring from Virginia Tech as a sophomore in the Fall of 2010. “It’s everything I dreamed of. Coming here, that’s all I wanted was to leave a mark and be the first team to win a round at NCAAs. To do that my senior year, would be unbelievable. Everyone is ready for the challenge. I can see the desire and excitement in everyone’s eyes. We have definitely come together this week to get ready for this match.”
NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
May 11-12, 2013
Don and Ethel McLeod Tennis Center
at Lubbock, Texas
First Round, Saturday, May 11
Match 1 – (#15) Duke (14-9) vs. (#37) Ole Miss (16-13) at 11 a.m. (CT) / Noon (ET)
Match 2 – (#17) Texas Tech (19-6) vs. (#71) College of Charleston (20-8) at 2 p.m. (CT) / 3 p.m. (ET)
Second Round, Sunday, May 12
Match 3 – Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2 at 1 p.m. (CT) / 2 p.m. (ET)