While making its 12th appearance in the last 14 years, the No. 13 University of Redlands men's tennis team advances to the NCAA Division III Championships with an at-large berth to take on the 28th-ranked University of Texas-Dallas in a first-round match. The teams square off on Friday at 10 a.m. on the campus of nearby Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges.
The winner of Friday's match faces CMS, which captured the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship for the automatic bid to the single-elimination tournament.
Following a first-round bye, Cal Lutheran University, which also received an at-large spot, takes on UC Santa Cruz, a Pool-B representative, in a second-round showdown on Saturday at CMS.
The winners move on to Sunday's third-round match to determine the quarterfinalists, who will compete at Stowe Stadium in Kalamazoo, MI, on May 20.
Once again revealing the strength of the West Region, all five qualifiers boast national rankings among the top 30. According to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's May 2 poll, CMS (26-3) owns the No. 1 ranking in all of NCAA Division III, with Cal Lutheran (17-4) landing at No. 5, UCSC (11-5) sitting 12th, Redlands (14-8) coming in at 13th, and Texas-Dallas (14-4) at No. 28.
Redlands enters the tournament for the second consecutive season and 20th time in 22 seasons.
The Bulldogs face the only unfamiliar opponent in the West-Regional cluster in Texas-Dallas, which has not competed against any of the five participating teams. The Comets garnered a spot in this year's event by winning the American Southwest Conference championship.
Redlands' line-up includes a trio of seniors in Connor Hyde (Peterborough, NH), John Brewer (Portland, OR), and Anish Nanda (Cerritos, CA), along with sophomores Patrick Lipscomb (Irvine, CA), Nick Cummins (Rancho Mirage, CA), and Taylor Hunt (Seattle, WA). The Bulldogs also utilize three doubles specialists, with sophomore Gram Leahy (Portland, OR) joining Lipscomb at the top, and sophomores Max Licona (Culver City, CA) and Teddy Jones (St. Louis, MO) combining forces at No. 3. In addition, Hyde and Cummins traditionally make up the No. 2 doubles tandem.
Overall, 44 men's tennis teams make up the NCAA Division III Championship bracket, with 30 spots going to the respective conference automatic qualifiers. Seven teams advanced as Pool-B representatives, while seven more gained Pool-C bids, three of which came from the SCIAC.
Selected individuals for singles and doubles competition will be announced on Wed., May 8.