05/06/09 — Trojan women grab at-large bid to NCAAs

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Trojan women grab at-large bid to NCAAs

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on May 6, 2009 1:47 PM

MOC Sports Information

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive College women's tennis team has received an at-large berth in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.

The Trojans drew the No. 10 seed and oppose league rival Erskine (S.C.) College in opening-round action Friday on the Francis Marion (S.C.) University courts. Erskine defeated MOC for the Conference Carolinas tournament crown nearly three weeks ago.

"We're very excited about getting the bid to the regionals," said Trojans head coach Dr. Burt Lewis. "The girls have worked hard all year and they're deserving of this opportunity."

Mount Olive (12-10 overall) is making its second appearance in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000. Lewis' team grabbed a share of the Conference Carolinas regular-season title for the first time in school history.

The NCAA realigned the Southeast Regional into two five-team brackets. Joining the Trojans at FMU are Columbus State (Ga.) University and Georgia College & State University. MOC lost to all three teams during regular-season play by identical 9-0 scores.

Armstrong Atlantic State is the No. 1 seed and will host the other five-team Southeast Regional. The regional champions advance to the 16-team national championships May 13-16 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Should Mount Olive advance to the regional final, Lewis could be in a pickle. He will receive his doctorate from the University of Georgia that weekend since commencement ceremonies are scheduled the same day the Southeast champion will be determined.

"That's a problem I hope I have to deal with," said Lewis.

The Trojans started 3-6 this spring, but prevailed in nine of their final 13 matches. Three losses occurred against Division I foes. Also in the mix was a 5-2 defeat against the Flying Fleet in the conference tournament title match.

"We're a much better team now than we were at the start of the season," said Lewis. "Hopefully, it'll help that we're opening against an opponent we're familiar with."

Mount Olive's postseason invitation extends the school's streak at having at least one NCAA tournament participant for six consecutive years. The Trojan women's tennis is the sixth different squad to qualify during that stretch.