EVANSTON-- On the heels of the best season in program history, Northwestern men's tennis will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 14 seed.
Under the current tournament format, which was adopted in 1999, the top-16 seeds host the opening rounds. There was some doubt as to whether Northwestern would remain in the top-16 after a loss to No. 17 Illinois in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, but Northwestern's impressive body of work— 25-4 overall, 11-2 in Big Ten play — was enough to earn the right to start the NCAA Tournament journey at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center.
This is the first time since the current format was adopted that Northwestern will host.
Northwestern will face Horizon League champion Valparaiso in the first round on May 13. Should the Wildcats advance, they'll take on the winner of No. 27 Stanford and No. 37 Notre Dame, a match that too will be played in Evanston, on May 15.
Valparaiso is riding a 12-match winning streak and is led by two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Jeffrey Schorsch.
"Hosting the first two rounds is a testament to the hard work our guys have put in all year," Northwestern head coach Arvid Swan said. "We are excited to play in front of our fans as we try to advance in the tournament."
Northwestern has been lead by a three-headed monster of juniors. No. 20 Konrad Zieba, No. 40 Sam Shropshire and No. 75 Strong Kirchheimer were all named First-Team All Big Ten and went a combined 69-19 in singles play. Kirchheimer's .903 winning percentage is the second-best individual season in Northwestern history.
It will be just the third time Northwestern has played outdoors at home all season. Every other match as been played indoors at the Combe Family Tennis Center due to weather conditions.
The final four rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be played in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the campus of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. In last year's tournament, Northwestern traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, and beat Harvard before falling tohost and then-No. 1 Oklahoma in the second round.
If Northwestern can get past Valparaiso and Stanford/Notre Dame, the next opponent would likely be No. 3 UCLA in the round of 16.