May 3, 2011
The 24th ranked University of Louisville men's tennis team has drawn Ivy League Champion Cornell in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship and will play the first and second rounds of the event May 13-14 at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky.
"I know many people will focus on a possible matchup with Kentucky if we would advance," said U of L head coach Rex Ecarma. "But our team will focus on Cornell because we have a lot of respect for their coaching staff which has a strong background in excellence at Virginia. Cornell is on the uptick and they have done a great job building the program."
The Cardinals (17-11) will be the first match of the day when they take on Cornell (26-4) at noon on Friday, May 13. Kentucky (26-8) is the No. 10 overall seed in the 64-team field and plays at 3 p.m. The winners of the two first-round matches meet Saturday, May 14, at 3 p.m. The second-round winner advances to Stanford, Calif., where the remaining rounds will take place May 19-24 at the Taube Tennis Center. All times are local.
"We are excited about the potential of playing Kentucky should we advance," said Ecarma, whose team has not played Kentucky since 2005. "Over the last six years or so, our teams have had similar rankings so it will be a fun match. They will be comfortable with the home court but with the nine Top 10 teams we have played this season under our belts, we are not going to panic. But we cannot overlook an up and coming Cornell team."
The Cards are making their third straight and eighth overall NCAA tournament appearance. The U of L captured their second consecutive BIG EAST Conference title with a 4-2 win over Notre Dame to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"Last week we had the biggest fan base at the BIG EAST Tournament and this is great for our fans to have us playing just 67 miles down the road," said Ecarma. "I hope and expect that the Cardinal Tennis faithful will show up in large numbers. I encourage them to wear red for both matches."
The Cardinals are led by All-American - and 2010 NCAA singles runner-up - senior Austen Childs. The two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year leads the team with a 30-10 overall record and a 21-5 mark in as their top-seeded player.
"We will concentrate on what we do best and play to our strengths," said Austen Childs. "Cornell is a good team and we have to be ready. All the tough teams we played this spring have really helped us and we are playing better and better. We have our confidence back and are looking forward. I am glad that we have the potential of possibly playing Kentucky finally as this senior class has never faced them."
Three other seniors: Alejandro Calligari, Simon Childs and Viktor Maksimcuk join Austen Childs in the Cardinal lineup. All four seniors are All-BIG EAST selections and have appeared in the ITA singles and doubles rankings this season
"We will concentrate on playing each point and not look ahead because of the single elimination setup. I think the match with Cornell will be extremely challenging and if we pull off that win, I think the match with UK, if they advance, will be a dogfight," said Simon Childs.
The Cardinals are led by All-American - and 2010 NCAA singles runner-up, senior Austen Childs. The two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year leads the team with a 30-10 overall record and a 21-5 mark in as their top-seeded player. Three other seniors: Viktor Maksimcuk (19-17, 12-11 dual), Simon Childs (24-14, 15-10) and Alejandro Calligari (16-20, 11-14) join Austen Childs in the Cardinal lineup. All four seniors are All-BIG EAST selections and have appeared in the ITA singles and doubles rankings this season. Juniors Robert Hall (20-10) and Andrew Carter (17-18) round out the top six.
Louisville was a perfect (11-0) at home this year and has won 29 straight matches on its home court dating back to the 2009 season.
CARDS IN THE RANKINGS
Louisville is currently 24th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings (May 2). The Cards reached as high as No. 12 on Feb. 14 and have been in the top 25 ten weeks in 2011. Louisville achieved the school's highest ranking at No. 10 in the 2010 season.
Senior Austen Childs is currently 16th in the ITA singles rankings - he reached a career-high 8th this season and has remained in the top 20 in every ranking period this year. Fellow senior Viktor Maksimcuk stands in at No. 93, moving up nine spots from a week ago. As a doubles team, Austen Childs and Viktor Maksimcuk are No. 18 in the May 2 ITA rankings. Senior Simon Childs and Maksimcuk are No. 45.
CARDS IN THE NCAA
Last season, U of L reached the round of 16 for the first time in program history. Louisville's Bass-Rudd Tennis Center served as a host site for the NCAA first and second rounds, marking the second time the Cardinals have been selected the host.
Louisville received its first NCAA tournament bid in 1998. Since then, the Cards returned to the big dance in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Austen Childs is a three-time NCAA singles championship selection and participated in the doubles championship as a freshman and sophomore. Simon Childs is a three-time NCAA doubles selection. He teamed with Austen Childs in 2008 and 2009 and combined with Alejandro Calligari to represent the Cards in 2010.