No. 29 UC San Diego Qualifies for Second Straight NCAA Championship Field; Hosts Azusa Pacific Tuesday, May 14
INDIANAPOLIS - The University of California San Diego women's tennis team got official word Tuesday evening of what was already largely known, that the Tritons had done enough to earn a return trip to the NCAA Division II Championship.
What wasn't expected, however, is that UC San Diego will host an opening-round match, against Azusa Pacific University, next Tuesday, May 14. Start time is 2 p.m. for doubles action at Northview Tennis Courts on North Campus in La Jolla. Admission remains free for the NCAA event, but parking permits will be required.
UC San Diego, seeded fourth in the initial, official NCAA West Region poll, moved up to third last Wednesday, and up once more to second when the final selections were unveiled. Azusa Pacific is the No. 3 seed.
UC San Diego is ranked No. 29 in the nation with a 12-7 overall mark, including 7-5 at home. No. 23 Azusa Pacific is 14-8 overall and 6-3 away from home in 2019. The winner of Tuesday's match advances to the round of 16 of the NCAA Championship, May 22-25 at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
This is UC San Diego's 13th invitation to the NCAA Division II Championship under legendary head coach Liz LaPlante, winding down her milestone 40th season in charge of the Tritons. LaPlante previously guided the program to 15 NCAA tournaments during its time in Division III. As the No. 4 seed a year ago, UC San Diego dropped a 5-1 decision at top-seeded Hawai'i Pacific in the opening round.
Azusa Pacific is making just its second NCAA Championship appearance, having lost 5-3 at home to Academy of Art in its debut a year ago on April 28. The Cougars took third at the 2019 Pacific West Conference Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
These teams have met twice already in 2019, splitting the pair of meetings with the road side victorious each time. APU first won 4-2 in the Tritons' season opener in La Jolla on Feb. 8. UC San Diego returned the favor in Azusa late in the year on April 6, edging out a dramatic 4-3 triumph, upsetting the then-15th-ranked Cougars.
In LaPlante's typical lineup, fourth-year senior Ashley Chao (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) is 8-10 this season in the No. 1 singles position, while fellow fourth-year senior Alexandra Weil is 13-4 at No. 2. Junior co-captain and 2018 singles All-American Becky Chou is an identical 13-4, primarily at No. 3. Junior Valeria Corral (San Diego/Mater Dei Catholic HS), who plays the bulk of her matches at No. 4, has compiled an impressive 9-2 mark (perfect 9-0 at No. 4), which includes nine consecutive wins, the longest streak by any Triton in 2019 in singles or doubles. Redshirt junior Chloe Wight is 9-4 as the primary No. 5 player, with true freshman Shweta Kumar (10-6) typically occupying the No. 6 slot.
In doubles, Chao and Chou have gone 10-6 back in the top spot. Weil and fourth-year partner Madison Hale, a team co-captain, are 12-4 at No. 2, while Kumar and Wight are 9-6 at No. 3.
The other half of the West Regional features fourth-seeded Academy of Art (14-5) making the trek over to Honolulu, Hawai'i, to take on top seed HPU (13-5), also next Tuesday, at 11:30 a.m. HT (2:30 p.m. PT). That winner moves on to Florida as well.
This is the first time that UC San Diego has made back-to-back NCAA appearances since 2009-10. The Tritons are an even 12-12 all-time in the Division II tourney.
Of the 48 teams selected to compete in NCAA postseason play, 21 earned automatic bids by winning a conference tournament, while 27 others are at-large qualifiers. UC San Diego and Azusa Pacific are both at-large selections.
The last three times that UC San Diego has qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship, they traveled to the island of Oahu in Hawai'i. This year, the Tritons will serve as hosts of a West sub-regional for the first time since 2009, when they lost to Hawai'i Pacific 5-3 in La Jolla on May 9.
UC San Diego has been unable to get out of the opening round of the NCAA Championship in each of its last four appearances, falling to HPU each time. The last time the Tritons won an NCAA tourney match was against Cal Poly Pomona at home on May 3, 2008, by the score of 5-0. They then went on to lose at BYU Hawaii, 5-0.
W🎾: Not only is No. 29 #UCSanDiego IN the #D2Tennis field of 48, but #Tritons are suddenly HOSTING as No. 2 seed. They'll host West Region 2 matchup with No. 3 seed @APUCougars, either Monday or Tuesday, May 13-14. Still awaiting confirmation on date and time. 👏#GoTritons 🔱 pic.twitter.com/ex9wAb5d6g— UCSD Athletics (@UCSDtritons) May 8, 2019
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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