By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the 24-team field for the 63rd Annual NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship. For the 11th-straight year, the event will be held at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala., from May 13-17. The official national championship seeds and bracket will be announced Tuesday, May 6, by 5 p.m. CDT.
The field consists of 13 automatic berths, 10 at-large selections and one host berth. Automatic qualification is given to conference and unaffiliated grouping tournament champions. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released earlier today. Mobile (Ala.) received the host berth.
Top-ranked Embry-Riddle (Fla.) headlines the field after winning its sixth-straight The Sun Conference Tournament championship on April 19. The Eagles are making their NAIA-best 15th national championship appearance, having appeared in every national championship since the current team format was adopted in 2000. Embry-Riddle will put its season-long eight-match winning streak on the line as it looks to defend its 2013 national title, which was the first in program history.
Perennial powerhouse and defending national runner-up Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) will be searching for its 10th all-time national title and its first since 2010. The Warhawks won their 10th-straight Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Tournament championship on April 26 and are riding a 10-match win streak into the national championship.
Newcomer Georgia Gwinnett will be a force to be reckoned with in its first national championship appearance. The Grizzlies, who are a perfect 17-0 on the season, own wins over 11 ranked opponents from across the NAIA and NCAA Divisions II and III. Georgia Gwinnett qualified for its first-ever national championship, in its first year of eligibility, by winning its unaffiliated grouping tournament championship on April 26.
Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament champion Vanguard (Calif.) and Mid-South Conference Tournament champion Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) are two historic programs poised to make a deep run in this year’s national championship. The teams have combined for 26 national championship appearances and 26 national championship wins, though both are still seeking their first-ever national title.
Four teams enter the national championship undefeated in NAIA play this season: Embry-Riddle, Auburn Montgomery, Georgia Gwinnett and Vanguard.
The SSAC leads all conferences with six teams in the national championship field. No other conference had more than three teams qualify for the national championship.
Eight of the 24 qualifiers have made at least 10 appearances at the national championship, led by aforementioned Embry-Riddle (15). Beyond the Eagles, Auburn Montgomery (14), Vanguard (14), Graceland (Iowa) (13), Aquinas (Mich.) (12), Lindsey Wilson (12), Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (12) and Bethany (Kan.) (11) have made 10-or-more appearances. Auburn Montgomery (1987, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010), Embry-Riddle (2013) and Mobile (1993, 1997) are the only qualifiers with at least one national title.
Five teams will be competing in their first-ever national championship—Coastal Georgia, Georgia Gwinnett, IU Southeast (Ind.), Marian (Ind.) and SCAD Atlanta (Ga.).
Seventeen teams return from the 2013 field.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship, click here.
2014 NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championship Qualifiers
|School||Qualification||Record||Appearance*||Last Time||Champs. Record*||Titles|
|Aquinas (Mich.)||At-Large No. 6||24-4||12th||2013||4-11||-|
|Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)||Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||22-3||14th||2013||40-7||9|
|Belhaven (Miss.)||At-Large No. 3||16-4||3rd||2013||2-2||-|
|Bethany (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||19-2||11th||2013||1-10||-|
|Bethel (Tenn.)||At-Large No. 9||11-7||5th||2013||3-4||-|
|Coastal Georgia||At-Large No. 8||12-7||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Concordia (Calif.)||At-Large No. 5||11-10||7th||2013||6-6||-|
|Cumberland (Tenn.)||At-Large No. 1||14-5||5th||2013||4-4||-|
|Embry-Riddle (Fla.)||The Sun Conference Tournament Champion||18-3||15th||2013||27-13||1|
|Georgia Gwinnett||Unaffiliated Grouping: A.I.I./GCAC/RRAC/SAC Tournament Champion||17-0||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Graceland (Iowa)||Unaffiliated Grouping: AMC/A.I.I./Frontier/HAAC/MCAC Tournament Champion||11-5||13th||2013||9-12||-|
|Hastings (Neb.)||Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||13-12||4th||2012||0-3||-|
|IU Southeast (Ind.)||Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||12-6||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||Mid-South Conference Tournament Champion||16-2||12th||2013||9-11||-|
|Marian (Ind.)||Crossroads League Tournament Champion||12-15||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Mobile (Ala.)||Host Berth||10-7||7th||2013||0-6||2|
|Northwestern Ohio||Unaffiliated Grouping: A.I.I./MCC/WHAC Tournament Champion||21-3||2nd||2013||1-1||-|
|Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||12-7||12th||2013||2-11||-|
|SCAD Atlanta (Ga.)||Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||10-4||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Vanguard (Calif.)||Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||18-4||14th||2013||17-13||-|
|Webber International (Fla.)||At-Large No. 10||13-9||7th||2007||4-6||-|
|Westmont (Calif.)||At-Large No. 2||14-6||6th||2013||6-5||-|
|William Carey (Miss.)||At-Large No. 7||9-8||4th||2013||3-3||-|
|Xavier (La.)||At-Large No. 4||11-11||6th||2013||4-5||-|
* Appearance and Champs. Record since current team format was established in 2000.