Video: NCAA Selection Show Reaction
In the final foursome to be announced on the NCAA selection show Tuesday night, the Princeton women's tennis team learned it will head to Alabama to open the NCAA tournament with Arizona State next weekend.
The first two rounds will be played May 9-10, with Princeton/Arizona State to start at 1 p.m. local time in Tuscaloosa, 2 p.m. ET Friday, May 9 and Alabama/Jackson State to follow. The winners will meet Saturday, May 10 at 1 p.m. local time, 2 p.m. ET.
Princeton is in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010 and the fifth time in program history. The Tigers are looking for their first NCAA tournament victory, and in their last two visits, they came as close as they could. In 2010, Princeton played at Virginia in the first round and lost to the Cavaliers 4-3. In 2009, the Tigers went to Miami and lost to Florida International, also 4-3. Princeton's first two NCAA trips were in 1983, in a first-round loss to Stanford in a 16-team event, and in 2000 for a 5-1 defeat against Tennessee at William & Mary in the current 64-team event.
Princeton (18-5) has never faced Arizona State (18-7), nor has it faced Alabama or Jackson State. Princeton last went to Alabama two years ago to play in the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic in Birmingham, Ala.
The Tigers won the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by sweeping through the Ivy with a 7-0 record. The bid wasn't clinched until the final Sunday of the regular season on April 21 in a 6-1 win over Columbia, which also made the NCAA tournament. Princeton got hot over the season's final month, going 3-0 against their ITA-ranked Ivy counterparts from Yale, Harvard and Columbia after going 0-4 against ITA-ranked teams in the pre-conference season.
Princeton, which will enter the NCAA tournament on a 10-match win streak, is ranked No. 50 in the latest ITA rankings from April 22, while the Tigers' first-round opponent, Arizona State, is ranked No. 24. The last time Princeton defeated a team ranked as high as 24th was on Feb. 20, 2010 against No. 20 Vanderbilt in Jadwin Gym.
Princeton and ASU have two common opponents this season in Stanford and Yale, and both had the same results against those opponents. Stanford defeated Princeton 7-0 and ASU 6-1, while both teams beat Yale 4-3. While Princeton earned the Ivy League's automatic bid, the Sun Devils earned an at-large bid out of the Pac-12, where they finished sixth at 5-5 in league play.
The winner will get either Alabama or Jackson State. Alabama (22-4), the No. 3-ranked team in the nation and the draw's No. 2 seed, entered on an at-large bid after losing to Georgia in the SEC final. Jackson State (10-17) captured the SWAC's automatic bid.