Tennis Faces Baylor in the NCAA Championships

BEAUMONT, Texas – The Lamar University men’s tennis team will be head to Waco, Texas Friday, May 12 to face No. 7-seed Baylor (21-7) in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships. It marks the second consecutive season the Cardinals have received the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship tournament.

“It’s always very exciting to see your name appear on screen in the bracket,” said LU head coach Scott Shankles. “Our guys were clearly very excited. We had the opportunity to play Baylor earlier this season, so we have some experience against them. It’s time to get back to work.”

The LU players, coaching staff and fans packed the Dauphin Athletic Complex Team Meeting Room Tuesday afternoon to watch the NCAA Selection Show, but had to temper their excitement until nearly the end of the program before seeing the words “Lamar University” pop on the screen filling the room with cheers and applause.

The Cardinals are making their second-straight appearance in the NCAA Championships, an accomplishment that takes on more meaning considering the Red and White were entering their first NCAA tournament in program history last season since tennis transitioned to the 64-team format.

Big Red advanced to the NCAA Championships by winning the 2017 Southland Conference tournament against top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 4-1. The victory was made more special by the fact that LU had dropped a 6-1 decision at Corpus Christi just a week earlier costing the Cardinals the outright regular-season title.

The Cardinals head into their second consecutive postseason appearance riding a wave of momentum following their victory in the Southland Championships. LU heads to Waco having won two straight and eight of its last nine, with the lone hiccup during that stretch coming in the regular-season finale.

The Cards enter the postseason riding the strength of a 17-win campaign, its second in as many seasons. Big Red has won 34 matches over the course of the past two years, which is the best two-year total since 1980 and 1981.

“Baylor is an extremely talented team,” said Shankles. “They do have some younger players in the lineup, but those guys don’t play like typical freshmen. Baylor will bring a tremendous amount of talent to the court. The one difference for us this year is we have some veteran guys. The NCAA tournament was a brand new experience for all of us last season but now we have experience we can lean on.”

The rest of the four-team pod will consist of Cornell (21-3) and Rice (23-7), who LU opened the 2017 campaign up against on the road.

If the Cardinals can make it out of their four-team pod, they would face the winner of the Texas. That part of the bracket consists of Tulane vs. Washington and Presbyterian vs. No. 10 Texas.

Match times and ticket information will be released at a later date.