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North Florida women’s tennis set to play No. 15 Miami

Photo courtesy UNF Athletics/SE Sports Media
This is the third time in program history that the women’s tennis team has played the University of Miami in the first round of the tournament.
Photo courtesy UNF Athletics/SE Sports Media

After winning their third Atlantic Sun Conference title in just four years, the UNF women’s tennis team received their much-anticipated answer as to who they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament yesterday during the NCAA Selection Show. The Lady Ospreys are slated to play the No. 15 seed University of Miami in the first round of the NCAA Division-I Tennis Tournament on May 8 at 2 p.m. in Coral Gables, Florida.

Much like the college basketball selection process, there were 32 teams that received automatic bids into the tournament by winning conference championships, North Florida being one of those teams. The remaining 32 contenders, plus top-16 seeds, were announced yesterday.

According to NCAA policy, the teams which were selected as top-16 seeds are guaranteed to host the first and second rounds of the tournament as long as all criteria is met and there are no matchups between conference opponents in those opening rounds. Four teams will compete per location and each match-up is single-elimination. The 16 teams who successfully win out after the second-round will then travel to Waco, Texas to compete for the national championship May 15-24. The NCAA Tournament this year will be hosted by Baylor University, which was selected as a No. 8 seed and pitted against Northwestern State in the first-round.

“This bracket culminates a season of hard work by all student-athletes and has created some excellent pairings in the early rounds of the championship,” Tad Berkowitz said. Berkowitz is the head coach of the men’s tennis program at the University of Arizona and is currently the chairman of the men’s and women’s Division I Selection Committee. “It will be exciting to watch as teams advance to the final site in Waco.”

This is not the Osprey’s first rodeo in terms of NCAA Tournament play at Miami. This will be the third time in program history that North Florida has played in Coral Gables, Florida. for the opening rounds of the tournament. In addition, the Lady Ospreys were matched up against the Hurricanes in both the 2012 and 2013 tournament first-rounds. The two teams’ most recent 2013 tournament battle ended in a 4-0 fleecing-victory for the Hurricanes.

North Florida will be entering the tournament sitting on a nine-match winning streak with a 17-3 overall record for the season. The Hurricanes, who just recently fell to Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Conference Tournament, are sitting at a 16-6 record for the season. Miami has found outstanding success when playing on their home court, compiling a 9-1 record at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center.

“It’s nice to play Miami,” UNF’s Head Coach Audra Cohen said. “We’ve played them a few times in the first round of the NCAA Tournament during the last four years. It’s an experience many of the girls are accustomed to. My hope is that we go out there and we are fearless. It’s a good opportunity for the program and we’re excited for the tournament.”

Cohen, who is no stranger to the University of Miami, was an NCAA Singles Champion for the Hurricanes during her time playing collegiate sports. She is the only woman in history to have reached the NCAA Finals with two different schools (Northwestern and Miami). In 2007 Cohen won the NCAA Singles Championship for Miami under the current head coach, Paige Yaroshuk-Tews.

This is Cohen’s fourth year as head coach of the Ospreys, and under her leadership the tennis program has gone 64-19 (.771) overall and 30-1 (.968) in conference play.  She will be looking to capitalize on this third NCAA Tournament appearance with the experience she has to offer her team.

North Florida is the underdog in this fight though, with Miami having remained nationally ranked in the top-20 since the start of the season. If the Ospreys pull off the upset against Miami on Friday, May 8 they will move on to face the winner of Mississippi-Denver on Saturday, May 9.

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