By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
MOBILE, Ala. — (Schedule | Bracket) The 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship will kick off on Tuesday, May 13, at 8:30 a.m. CDT with eight concurrent matches occurring across 48 courts at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala.
The top eight teams—No. 1 Xavier (La.), No. 2 Georgia Gwinnett, No. 3 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 4 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), No. 5 Embry-Riddle (Fla.), No. 6 Brenau (Ga.), No. 7 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) and No. 8 Vanguard (Calif.)—received a first-round bye and will face Tuesday’s winners in second-round action, beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
No. 1-seeded Xavier (La.), which defeated Georgia Gwinnett in its unaffiliated grouping tournament championship match, headlines the field. The Gold Nuggets are 15-6 on the season and are making their eighth national championship appearance since 2000. Four of Xavier’s six losses have come against NCAA Division I opponents, with the other two coming against top five ranked NAIA opponents Georgia Gwinnett and Lindsey Wilson.
In its first year of eligibility, aforementioned Georgia Gwinnett will be making its first-ever national championship appearance as the top-ranked at-large team in the field at No. 2 overall. The Grizzlies have compiled a 14-4 record on the year, with all four losses coming against top five ranked programs from NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and the NAIA. Georgia Gwinnett’s loss to Xavier in its unaffiliated grouping tournament championship match was the Grizzlies lone loss to an NAIA opponent this season.
Perennial contenders No. 3 Lindsey Wilson, No. 4 Auburn Montgomery, No. 5 Embry-Riddle and No. 6 Brenau are also poised to challenge for this year’s national crown. The teams have combined for 53 national championship appearances, 109 national championship wins and 15 national titles.
Mid-South Conference Tournament champion Lindsey Wilson is riding a 12-match winning streak into the national championship, during which the Blue Raiders have swept each of their 12 opponents, including three who were ranked among the Top 25 nationally.
Eight-time defending Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament champion and three-time defending national champion Auburn Montgomery will be looking to improve on its NAIA-best 13 national titles. No other NAIA program owns more than five women’s tennis national championships.
The Sun Conference Tournament champion Embry-Riddle and previously mentioned Lindsey Wilson are undefeated in NAIA play this season. Both the Eagles and the Blue Raiders are each seeking their first national title.
SSAC Tournament runner-up Brenau is one of two qualifiers to own multiple national championships, along with conference foe Auburn Montgomery.
The SSAC leads all conferences with four teams in the national championship field: Auburn Montgomery, Brenau, Coastal Georgia and Mobile (Ala.).
Eight of the 24 qualifiers have made at least 10 appearances at the national championship, led by Auburn Montgomery (15) and Indiana Wesleyan (15). Beyond the Warhawks and Wildcats, Brenau (14), Embry-Riddle (14), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (14), Vanguard (12), Lindsey Wilson (10) and SCAD Savannah (10) have made 10-or-more appearances.
Auburn Montgomery (1992, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Brenau (1999, 2002), Mobile (1994), Northwood (Fla.) (2003) and Westmont (Calif.) (1982) are the only qualifiers with at least one national title.
Four teams will be competing in their first-ever national championship, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), Georgia Gwinnett, McPherson (Kan.) and Morningside (Iowa).
Seventeen teams return from the 2013 field.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship, click here.