Pioneers earn NCAA bid, to face Queens in tourney opener

Pioneers earn NCAA bid, to face Queens in tourney opener

INDIANAPOLIS --- The Tusculum women's tennis team has received a bid to the NCAA Division II Championships, and will face Queens University of Charlotte in the opening round of the Southeast Region on Saturday in Columbus, Georgia.

The Pioneers (20-2) opened the season with 17 consecutive victories and finished in second place in the South Atlantic Conference with a 9-1 record. Tusculum defeated Carson-Newman in the SAC quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual tournament champion Queens in the semifinal round.

The Royals (16-3) finished in third place in the SAC with an 8-2 conference record, including 5-4 losses to Wingate and Tusculum, before beating both in the SAC tournament to win the championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The winner of the match between the Pioneers and the Royals will play top-seeded host Columbus State (22-2) in the second round on Sunday. The Cougars won the Peach Belt Conference regular-season and tournament championships, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last season.

Wingate is hosting the other half of the Southeast Region bracket, and will face Chowan in the first round on Saturday. The other opening-round match is between third-seeded Georgia College and sixth-seeded North Georgia, both at-large selections out of the Peach Belt Conference. The winner from each regional site will advance to the 16-team national tournament at Surprise, Arizona from May 8-11.

Tusculum is making its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament and the 10th in program history. This is Tusculum's sixth appearance as an at-large selection, with the most recent coming in 2009. All-time, the Pioneers are 1-9 in the NCAAs, with their only win coming by a 5-0 score against Wingate in the opening round in 2003. Last year, the Pioneers were eliminated by Armstrong State by a 5-1 score in first-round action at Savannah, Georgia.

A total of seven teams were selected to represent the Southeast Region in the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships. Three of the selections were automatic bids to conference championships: Columbus State (Peach Belt Conference), Queens (SAC) and Chowan (Conference Carolinas). The four at-large teams were selected by a series of criteria, including in-region winning percentage, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, and results against common opponents.

2018 NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships
Southeast Region

at Columbus, Georgia
Saturday, April 28
#4 Tusculum vs. #5 Queens, TBA
Sunday, April 29
Tusculum/Queens winner vs. #1 Columbus State, TBA

at Wingate, North Carolina
Saturday, April 28
#2 Wingate vs. #7 Chowan, TBA
#3 Georgia College vs. #6 North Georgia, TBA
Sunday, April 29
Wingate/Chowan winner vs. Georgia College/North Georgia winner, TBA