Minnesota will take on New Mexico in an opening-round match of the NCAA men’s tennis tournament on Fri., May 8 in Los Angeles.
The Gophers are making their 14th NCAA tournament appearance in the past 16 seasons and their 20th appearance overall in the event. Southern California will host the four-team regional and face UC-Santa Barbara in the other opening round matchup at 11 a.m. (Pacific time) followed by Minnesota and New Mexico at 2 p.m. The regional final will be Sat. May 9 at 4 p.m. (Pacific time) with the winner being one of 16 teams advancing to College Station, Texas for the finals.
Minnesota has experienced its best turnaround in school history with an 18-7 overall record after a 7-17 overall mark in 2008. The Gophers earned an at-large bid after losing in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten tournament to Indiana on Friday. The Big Ten earned six bids to the field as Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin were also selected.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Minnesota coach Geoff Young said. “It’s great to know where we’re going now. When we’re practicing, it’s good to know who were playing and where we’re playing which makes it easier to prepare.”
Minnesota and New Mexico have met eight previous times, including a matchup in Albuquerque in 2007 that New Mexico won 5-2. The Gophers are ranked 33rd in the latest national rankings, while the Lobos are ranked 41st. New Mexico owns a 20-5 overall record and won the Mountain West Conference tournament with a 4-1 win over Nevada-Las Vegas last weekend. The Gophers and New Mexico had one individual meeting this season as the Lobos’ No. 1 player Johnny Parkes beat Minnesota’s No. 3 player, Sebastian Gallego, 6-3, 6-3 at the ITA Qualifier in Tulsa, Okla. in October.
“We know their team well,” Young said. “It should be a close match and if we compete hard we have a good chance to win.”
Southern California is seeded eighth and is 19-5 overall. The Trojans are coming off a loss to UCLA in the Pac 10 tournament. The Gophers have beaten the Trojans once in five meetings and the teams have not met since 2002.
UC-Santa Barbara is 11-13 overall and qualified after winning the Big West Conference tournament. The Gophers are 3-0 all-time against the Gauchos. New Mexico beat UC-Santa Barbara 7-0 earlier this season.