NCAA Tournament play opens Friday for women's tennis

Susie Winternheimer

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HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover women's tennis team will look to make history when they return to the NCAA Division III National Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons this weekend.

TOURNAMENT INFO: Hanover travels to the University of the South (Sewanee) this weekend for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers open play against Webster (Mo.) at 10 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 11. If HC is fortunate enough to advance past Friday, second and third round action would take place Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13, with official start times still to be confirmed. All three regional rounds will take place at Sewanee.

BACK IN THE BIG DANCE: The Panthers return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 season and will be making their fourth appearance in the past five years. Hanover though, enters the 2018 edition still looking for the program's first victory in the national spectacle. The Blue and Red dropped their last outing in 2016 to Westminster (Pa.), 5-1, and also faced Webster the year prior in a 5-0 setback.

NATIONALLY-RANKED TEAMS HIGHLIGHT REGIONAL POD: Hanover was drawn into arguably the toughest regional pod for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, as three of the five teams are currently ranked inside the top 15 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national poll. The winner of the first round match-up between the Panthers (15-5) and the Gorlocks (12-5) will advance to face the No. 1 ranked Eagles of Emory University (Ga.).

The Eagles boast a 13-4 overall record, with three losses coming to NCAA Division I institutions and the fourth to NCAA Division II, Columbus State (Ga.). The other second round match features the host and No. 12 ranked Sewanee against No. 13 Washington-St. Louis (Mo.). The Tigers, who defeated Hanover earlier this spring, 8-1, hold a 21-4 overall mark while WashU enters the tournament at 13-7 overall.

PANTHERS TESTED IN NON-CONFERENCE: The Panthers put together a rigorous non-conference slate for the 2017-18 season. Hanover's five losses this season, all in the non-conference, have come to nationally-ranked Sewanee, regionally ranked Augustana (Ill.) and Centre (Ky.), and scholarship-based institutions Bellarmine (Ky.) and Indiana University-Southeast. Of HC's five losses, four institutions finished at least as the runner-up for their respective conferences.

DOUBLES DOMINANCE: Hanover has usually gotten off to fast starts this season, taking care of business in doubles play. The Panthers are 41-19 in doubles competition this season, a .683 winning percentage. A pair of tandems, junior Susie Winternheimer (Indianapolis, Ind.) & sophomore Meghan Farrell (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore Cami Jones (Richmond, Ind.) & freshman Haley Parker (Leo, Ind.), have been stellar all year long for the Blue and Red. The duo of Winternheimer and Farrell are 17-3 this season, including a 10-0 mark in the No. 3 slot. The underclassmen pair of Jones and Parker have produced a 15-5 overall record.

DOUBLE-DIGIT WINS FOR FOUR SINGLES ATHLETES: Singles play for HC has been almost as strong as the doubles, with the squad producing an overall win percentage of .648 (70-38). In fact, four Panthers have double-digit win totals in singles play this season, including Parker, who is a team-best 14-4. Jones also has 14 wins but has six losses, as she normally competes in the No. 2 slot. Winternheimer and freshman Addison Laker (Indianapolis, Ind.) both have 11 singles wins, as they are usually slotted in the Nos. 3 and 5 matches, respectively.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu