April 28, 2009
AUBURN - The No. 33 Auburn women's tennis team earned its third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and is set to face No. 18 Florida State in the first round, the NCAA announced on Tuesday. The Tigers will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and will play at Florida's Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.
The NCAA Tournament berth is the sixth overall for Auburn, but the third for head coach Tim Gray, who is in only his fourth year on the Plains.
"We are very excited," said Gray. "To make it three years in a row shows that the program is going in the right direction and we definitely deserve to be there. We are looking forward to traveling down to Florida and playing our first-round opponent."
It marks the second year in a row for Auburn to be sent to Gainesville for the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds. Traveling to a familiar site, as well as an in-conference venue, is something Gray said could benefit his team.
"We are playing in one of the venues that we see year-to-year and it helps being familiar with the surroundings," said Gray. "We had a good match at Florida a couple week ago. We lost 4-3, but it shows we can play with the best and we can definitely play with any of the other three teams in the bracket. We are excited to be in that regional."
The Tigers currently hold an 11-12 record (3-7 in SEC play) after falling to Alabama, 4-0, in the first round of last week's SEC Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark. Florida State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 16-7 overall record and finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 7-4 mark.
"Florida State is a solid program, they have had a very good year and are a very well-coached team," said Gray. "We definitely have our hands full, but we have shown all season that we can hang with teams of that caliber."
Auburn and Florida State are definitely not strangers, having faced each other 20 times all-time, but the Seminoles have a dominating 18-2 advantage in the series. The last meeting between the squads came last season with Auburn suffering a 5-2 loss in Tallahassee, Fla. Auburn's last win over the Seminoles came in a 4-3 victory during the 2002 season.
In the other first-round match, host Florida, the No. 15 overall seed, will take on College of Charleston. Florida is also hosting regional competition for the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament and times for the matches are yet to be determined.
Auburn has a 0-31 all-time record against Florida, including the 4-3 loss earlier this season, but the Tigers have never faced College of Charleston.
Leading the Tigers into the NCAA Tournament will be junior Fani Chifchieva and senior Alex Haney. Chifchieva is ranked sixth in the country in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association with a 15-5 record. Haney, who plays No. 2 singles behind No. 1 Chifchieva, is ranked 26th in the nation with a 17-3 record.
Haney is also ranked in doubles as she and senior Whitney Chappell make up the 14th-ranked doubles team in the country with a 10-3 mark.
Tickets may be purchased in advance or on each day of the tournament. An All-Session Pass is $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, college students, and children under 17. Single Day tickets for Saturday are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, college students and children under 17. Single Day tickets for Sunday are $3 for everyone. Tickets also are available for purchase online at www.Gatorzone.com/tickets.
For more information on the 2009 NCAA Tournament, check in at www.AuburnTigers.com and www.GatorZone.com.