Women's tennis to face No. 6 Florida in the NCAA Tournament

April 29, 2008

NCAA Tournament bracket

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With a second-straight Atlantic Sun Conference championship trophy in tow, the JU women's tennis team will make the trek to Gainesville to face the No.6 seed Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Joining JU and Florida in the Gainesville regional will be Ohio State and Auburn, who will face off in the first round on Friday, May 9. The winners of each match will face off for the right to go to the national championships on May 10.

"Obviously it's a tough draw, but we're excited to be in the tournament," said JU head coach Shane Wood. "Having played Florida last year in the tournament, we want to build off of that experience and make it a little more challenging match."

The Dolphins (20-5) enter the tournament on a hot streak, having won nine straight matches to make the tournament field of 64. The Dolphins are the first team to repeat as conference champions since UCF in 2000.

"We've had a great season and this is the icing on the cake," Wood said. "Tennis is different than basketball, but I want our team to go out there and play like those teams do in the basketball tournament. Play fearless and like you have nothing to lose."

One of the plusses for the Dolphins is the experience factor. JU has four players that were on last year's team playing this year and all are looking to use that experience to help them.

"It's important to get everyone serious and focused on tennis, which I think those four will be able to do," Wood said. "Finals are over, so we're going to be able to focus on tennis for the next two weeks before we get into the summer.

"The great thing about having experience is that the older players can relay their nerves and thoughts from last year's match to help us be ready for what we will face against Florida."

JU enters the tournament with four players having won 16 matches or more, led by freshman Lina Xu. Xu has racked up an impressive 20-4 record while seeing time at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 positions and has won eight straight matches.

The Dolphins eat while awaiting the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket

Another leader is senior Lena Willi, who enters with a 19-6 record but has won 11 straight and just completed her second straight undefeated season in A-Sun play. She also played in last year's match against Florida.

While the task is daunting, the Dolphins are going to be prepared for the Gators.

"It's hard not to be excited about playing the No. 6 team in the country," Wood said. "Being in the NCAA Tournament is a big deal as we're now representing the school on a national level. No matter what happens, we've had a very successful season and accomplished a lot of great things."