May 7, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The historic season for the Purdue men's tennis team will continue Friday as the Boilermakers travel to Lexington, Ky., for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships hosted by Kentucky. No. 40 Purdue (15-7) will meet No. 21 Clemson (20-8) on the courts of the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center Friday at 12 p.m. ET. The host and 13th-ranked Wildcats (21-9) will then take on unranked Denver (12-10), the fourth team at the site, following the Purdue/Clemson match.
The winners of Friday's two matches will battle in the second round Saturday at 3 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., where they will join 15 other site winners to compete for the national championship May 15-20.
Tournament matches will be regulation dual matches with three eight-game, pro-set doubles played for one team point, followed by six singles matches, each valued at one team point, played in best-of-three sets. Regular scoring will be used and a 12-point tiebreaker will be played at seven-games-all in doubles and at six-games-all in singles.
Three of the four teams playing in Lexington received an at-large bid into the 64-team field: Purdue, Clemson and Kentucky. Denver claimed the Summit League Tournament title and was awarded an automatic bid. For the Tigers, Wildcats and Pioneers, making the NCAA tournament is a regular occurrence. Clemson and Denver are making their second straight appearances, while Kentucky has advanced to the Sweet 16 the past four seasons. Purdue has qualified for the sixth time in program history, but for the first time since 2002.
Friday's match against the Tigers will be the fourth all-time meeting between Clemson and the Boilermakers. However, it has been 39 years since they last met. When they last faced each other in 1975, Purdue won, 5-4. The Tigers won in the 1973 and 1974 meetings. The Boilermakers are 0-5 versus Kentucky (1936, 1938, 1980, 1986, 2006) and 2-2 against Denver, including a 4-0 win by Purdue at the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley Spring Classic on March 21.
It is pivotal for the Boilermakers to return to their winning ways. They stumbled through the final leg of the regular season, losing their last four matches, one of which was a 4-0 shutout at the hands of Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. It was the only time this season Purdue had been blanked. Despite dropping the doubles point to the Wildcats, Aaron Dujovne and Diego Acosta provided an upset.
Moving into the No. 1 slot for the first time since March 30, the senior/junior tandem once again got the better of Northwestern's nationally ranked team of Mihir Kumar and Raleigh Smith. Dujovne and Acosta dealt the then-28th-ranked pair an 8-4 loss. It was the Boilermaker duo's third upset of a nationally ranked opponent and their second of Kumar and Smith this season.
Four of Szymon Tatarczyk and Ricky Medinilla's five losses have been suffered in conjunction with the dual losses. Despite the setbacks, the 8-5 senior/freshman tandem has appeared on the last four editions of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) doubles rankings. They enter the NCAA tournament with their highest ranking of the season at No. 58.
Clemson was forced out in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championships with a 4-2 loss to then-No. 14 Notre Dame. Over half of the Tigers dual matches have been against nationally ranked opponents, to which they own a 10-8 mark with one top-10 victory. They have climbed in the ITA team rankings throughout the season. Clemson opened at No. 25 and checked in as high as No. 16.
Individually, the Tigers boast two ranked singles players, who also team up as one of the nation's best doubles teams. NCAA singles qualifier Hunter Harrington carries a 22-12 mark and is ranked 48th. No. 80 Dominique Maden sports an 18-9 record, with all but three of his matches being played at the No. 2 spot.
Maden, who was an All-American in doubles in 2013, and Harrington are ranked ninth. The senior/junior pair has a 26-3 record, including a 6-0 record over top-64 opponents and they have won their last seven matches.
The Boilermakers are 2-5 in five combined trips to the NCAA Championships, qualifying in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Both times that Purdue has advanced into the second round came while playing in South Bend, Ind. In their 2002 appearance, the Boilermakers opened with a 4-1 win over Ball State and then suffered a 4-0 loss to No. 14 Notre Dame. In 1998, Purdue beat No. 49 Michigan, 4-2, in the first round, and were then blanked by No. 12 Duke, 4-0.
Purdue is one of 39 Division I schools that had both its men's and women's tennis programs qualify for the 2014 NCAA Championships. Eleven schools had both teams receive automatic bids by winning its respective conference tournament. At five schools, the men's team received an automatic bid, while the women's team was awarded an at-large bid. There were three schools in which the women's team received an automatic bid and the men's team earned an at-large berth. The Boilermaker men and women are one of 20 schools to which at-large selections were awarded to both teams.