EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE women's tennis will face defending national champions and No. 6 seed Vanderbilt in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, May 13 at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center. The match is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT.
Vanderbilt is the opening round host that will feature the Commodores and Cougars. The winner of that match will go on to face either Rice or Clemson.
"They're a good team and they are well-coached," said SIUE Head Coach Nick Mueller. "We're excited to go, and it's a first for our program's history to be in the Division I championship. To be able to go to Vanderbilt and play the defending champs is a privilege for us. Our girls will cherish the experience."
The Commodores were the Southeastern Conference regular season champions, boasting an overall record of 19-5 and an SEC record of 11-2. Vanderbilt lost Georgia in the semifinal match of the SEC Tournament, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The field is set for 64 teams to compete in a single-elimination tournament with the final rounds located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Cougars earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after clinching their first-ever Ohio Valley Conference Championship against UT Martin, adding to its 11-match win streak, which is the longest since moving to Division I. SIUE also clinched a share of the regular season title with a 19-4 overall record and 9-1 OVC record, the most wins the Cougars have earned since joining the conference and the most overall wins in the Division I era.
The Cougars are led by three players with 20-plus singles wins on the year. First team All-OVC selection Lexi Aranda, who is 25-6 on the year, will enter the tournament on a seven-match win streak from the No. 1 position. Mia Frogner, a second team All-OVC selection, boasts a record of 27-8 from the No. 2 spot. Freshman Madeline Hill, a member of the All-OVC second team, enters the tournament with a record of 31-6. Hill's 31 singles wins are the most by any Cougar in the Division I era. A total of seven Cougars earned at least 15 singles wins during the year.
"This is new to them, so the feelings are fresh and the experience will be memorable," said Mueller. "The emphasis will be fun. We can play loose and relaxed and enjoy the experience playing the defending national champions."