Tennis teams passed over for NAIA tourney bids
For immediate release . . . May 7, 2007
NEW ORLEANS — Despite top-25 rankings for both, the women's and men's tennis teams at Xavier University of Louisiana were not invited Monday to next week's NAIA National Tournament.
Based on the rankings, both the 21st-ranked Gold Nuggets (15-7) were the third team left out of the 24-team women's bracket, and the 25th-ranked Gold Rush (12-10) was the third team left out of the 24-team men's bracket. The tournament will begin May 14 at Mobile, Ala.
"That's the way the system has been for years," said Alan Green, who coaches both Xavier teams. "It happens to good schools every year. Someone good gets left out. We just have to make sure we're good enough to avoid this position next season."
The women's field consists of 13 regional champions, 10 at-large selections and the host school, Mobile, which qualified solely by attaining a winning record. Six of the women's schools invited — Mobile and five regional champions — were not ranked, and as a result seven ranked schools did not qualify, including 17th-ranked California Baptist and 20th-ranked Bethel (Tenn.).
The Gold Nuggets were 0-5 against ranked teams which reached the national tournament, including 5-4 losses to three top-10 teams: Berry, Brenau and Embry-Riddle.
"We had chances to beat some higher-ranked teams and help our cause, and we barely lost," Green said of his women.
The men's bracket has 13 regional champions and 11 at-large squads. Spring Hill, the only NAIA men's school from Mobile, had a losing record and did not qualify. Three regional champions were unranked, and as a result they prevented three ranked schools — Xavier, No. 18 Concordia (Calif.) and No. 21 Shorter — from earning at-large bids.
Xavier's men defeated one ranked tournament qualifier, No. 22 Oklahoma Baptist, 5-0 on March 31. The Rush lost four times to ranked schools which made the tournament, including a 5-4 loss to No. 13 Berry.
Both Xavier squads were unbeaten this year during the Gulf Coast Athletic Conferebce regular-season schedule, then both won their conference tournaments. The national tourney berth would have been the third for Gold Nuggets and the first for the Rush. Neither team competed during the 2005-06 school year because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
"It's disappointing," Green said. "But this (snub) already has us motivated for next year."