By Ashley Marshall
The top 64 coed intramural club tennis teams from colleges across the country will compete next week for the 2018 Tennis On Campus National Championship.
Approximately 600 players will attend the three-day tournament, which will be held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., April 12-14.
In total, 15 of the 17 USTA sections will be represented at the event, led by defending champion University of Michigan (pictured above) as well as the winners and runners-up from the 2017 Spring Invitational (University of Northern Arizona and San Diego State University) and Fall Invitational (Ohio State University and Auburn University) tournaments.
The remaining 59 bids were assigned via sectional tournaments throughout the year. No section will have more representatives in Orlando than USTA Midwest and USTA Southern, which are each sending seven teams to the Sunshine State.
In addition to 2017 winner Michigan, every school that has won a Tennis On Campus National Championship since the tournament’s inception in 2000 will be represented.
Five-time TOC National Champion Texas A&M earned its bid by winning the 2018 USTA Texas Tennis On Campus Series title in February, while four-time winner University of California – Berkeley sealed a spot through the Northern California sectional tournament earlier this year.
The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, which won the first two National Championships, claimed a bid after reaching the final of February’s Tennis On Campus USTA Southern Championship, won by 2016 National Champion Auburn.
They will be joined by five other national champions: University of Florida (2003), University of Texas – Austin (2008), Duke University (2009), UCLA (2011) and University of Georgia (2013), which all advanced through their respective regional championships.
There will also be five new teams competing at the 2018 tournament: Boston University, from the New England section; Northern Arizona University, from the Southwest section; Tarrant County College, representing the Texas section; the University of Rochester, from the Eastern section; and the Colorado School of Mines, from the Intermountain section.
Either the University of Rochester or Northern Arizona University is guaranteed to finish no worse than 48th overall in its debut, after being drawn in the same four-team pool together.
Elsewhere in pool play, Michigan will begin its title defense against Villanova before facing Missouri Valley winner Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Other strong early-round matchups see Intermountain champion University of Colorado in the same pool as Spring Invitational winner Northern Arizona, and Eastern section champion Columbia in the same pool as Fall Invitational winner Ohio State.
The smallest school at the 2018 national championships is Carleton College from Northfield, Minn., with a student population of just 2,014. The college will play in Pool P, where it will face 2003 champion Florida, Kent State and North Carolina State University, which each average more than 40,000 students.
Every team will play the other three teams in their pool on Thursday, April 12. The top team in each pool advances to the gold bracket, while the second-place teams move on to the silver bracket. The 16 teams that finish third go to the bronze bracket, and the fourth-place teams will play in the copper bracket.
Teams are guaranteed four more matches over the next two days as they play through the compass bracket to determine final rankings.
The final will take place on Saturday, April 14, with the championship match scheduled for 5 p.m.