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 34th Annual NAIA Women’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 championship seeds and bracket will be announced Tuesday, May 6, by 5 p.m. CDT.
The field consists of 14 automatic berths, 9 at-large selections and one host berth. Automatic qualification is given to conference and unaffiliated grouping tournament champions and runners-up, depending on the conference. 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 Xavier (La.) headlines the field after winning its unaffiliated grouping tournament championship over a formidable Georgia Gwinnett squad on April 26. The Gold Nuggets will be making their eighth national championship appearance and will be searching for their first-ever national title.
Aforementioned Georgia Gwinnett will be making its first-ever national championship appearance, in its first year of eligibility, as the top-ranked at-large team in the field. The Grizzlies have lost just four matches on the season, with all four losses coming against Top 5 ranked programs in their respective divisions. The loss to Xavier on April 26 is Georgia Gwinnett’s lone loss to an NAIA opponent this season.
Perennial contenders Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) and Embry-Riddle (Fla.) are also poised to challenge for this year’s national crown. The teams have combined for 39 national championship appearances and 85 national championship wins.
Lindsey Wilson is riding a 12-match winning streak into the national championship, including a 3-0 run to the Mid-South Conference Tournament title on April 26. During that streak, the Blue Raiders have swept each of their 12 opponents, including three who were ranked among the Top 25 nationally.
Three-time defending national champion Auburn Montgomery will be looking to improve on its NAIA-best 13 national titles, after winning its eighth-straight Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Tournament championship on April 26. No other NAIA program owns more than five women’s tennis national championships.
The Eagles of Embry-Riddle brought home their third The Sun Conference Tournament championship in four years on April 19 and are seeking their first-ever national title.
Both Lindsey Wilson and Embry-Riddle are undefeated in NAIA play this season.
The SSAC leads all conferences with four teams in the national championship field.
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 (Ga.) (14), Embry-Riddle (14), Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) (14), Vanguard (Calif.) (12), Lindsey Wilson (10) and SCAD Savannah (Ga.) (10) have made 10-or-more appearances. Auburn Montgomery (1992, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Brenau (Ga.) (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.
2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship Qualifiers
|School||Qualification||Record||Appearance*||Last Time||Champs. Record*||Titles|
|Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)||Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||18-7||15th||2013||53-3||13|
|Brenau (Ga.)||Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Runner-Up||13-5||14th||2013||24-12||2|
|Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||21-4||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Coastal Georgia||At-Large No. 6||12-7||2nd||2013||0-1||-|
|Concordia (Calif.)||At-Large No. 7||8-11||6th||2013||7-5||-|
|Davenport (Mich.)||Unaffiliated Grouping: A.I.I./MCC/WHAC Tournament Champion||22-4||2nd||2013||0-1||-|
|Embry-Riddle (Fla.)||The Sun Conference Tournament Champion||15-5||14th||2013||17-13||-|
|Georgia Gwinnett||At-Large No. 1||14-4||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Graceland (Iowa)||Unaffiliated Grouping: AMC/A.I.I./Frontier/HAAC/MCAC Tournament Champion||14-3||2nd||2000||0-1||-|
|IU Southeast (Ind.)||Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||14-6||7th||2013||0-6||-|
|Indiana Wesleyan||Crossroads League Tournament Champion||24-2||15th||2013||10-14||-|
|Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||At-Large No. 8||5-16||14th||2013||10-13||-|
|Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||Mid-South Conference Tournament Champion||15-4||10th||2013||15-9||-|
|McPherson (Kan.)||Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||16-6||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Milligan (Tenn.)||Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||16-4||2nd||2000||0-1||-|
|Mobile (Ala.)||Host Berth||13-5||9th||2013||1-8||1|
|Morningside (Iowa)||Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||12-4||1st||-||0-0||-|
|Northwestern Ohio||At-Large No. 9||15-10||2nd||2012||0-1||-|
|Northwood (Fla.)||At-Large No. 3||13-4||9th||2013||12-7||1|
|Oklahoma Baptist||At-Large No. 4||13-10||2nd||2013||1-1||-|
|SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||At-Large No. 2||8-7||10th||2013||8-9||-|
|Vanguard (Calif.)||Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Champion||16-8||12th||2013||15-11||-|
|Westmont (Calif.)||At-Large No. 5||11-12||8th||2013||2-7||1|
|Xavier (La.)||Unaffiliated Grouping: A.I.I./GCAC/RRAC/SAC Tournament Champion||15-6||8th||2013||7-7||-|
* Appearance and Champs. Record since current team format was established in 2000.