OMAHA, Neb. – Creighton University will serve as the host for the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s & Women’s Tennis Championships, which runs Friday-Sunday, April 27-29. All matches are open to the public and admission is free.
The decision was made on Thursday night to move Friday's play to Hanscom Indoor Tennis Center, which resulted in several time changes (see new bracket, HERE). The goal remains to return outdoors on Saturday & Sunday to complete the event at Koch Family Tennis Center.
"It is really exciting for our players, fans and University that we get to host this prestigious tournament," said CU head coach Tom Lilly. "To be able to have the men's and women's MVC teams competing at the same facility is tremendous and we are looking forward to it. The MVC is very competitive from top to bottom and we are expecting some great college tennis action in both the men's and women's tournaments.
"The Drake men and Wichita State women have been in the national rankings consistently this spring and are definitely the teams to beat and both are returning championship teams as well," added Lilly. "This is 'win or go home' so there is a lot at stake and everyone knows that they need to bring their best effort, which makes it all the more enjoyable to be able to host the tournament."
The Creighton women (11-9, 2-5 MVC) earned the No. 6-seed and will open with No. 3-seed Illinois State (11-11, 5-2 MVC) on Friday at 12 pm. When the Bluejays and Redbirds met on April 15 in Normal, ISU won with a 6-1 decision.
Other quarterfinal round match-ups on the women’s side include No. 1-seed Wichita State (18-5, 7-0 MVC) against No. 8-seed Bradley (4-18, 0-7 MVC), No. 4-seed Southern Illinois (16-5, 5-2 MVC) versus No. 5-seed Evansville (13-8, 3-4 MVC), and No. 2-seed Drake (21-6, 5-2 MVC) against No. 7-seed Northern Iowa (9-10, 1-6 MVC).
The Shockers are the two-time defending tournament champions and are ranked 58th nationally. WSU won all but one league match by a 7-0 score this year, and are led by No. 1 singles player Lutfiana Budiharto (19-3).
The semifinal round will be held Saturday at 9 am, with Sunday’s finals set for 11 am. The winner of the championship earns the MVC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins May 11-13 on campus sites nationwide.
Leading the Creighton women’s team with 15 singles wins in dual matches this spring has been senior Mary McMullan (15-5) and freshman Taylor Koehrsen (13-7). Playing primarily in the No. 1 singles slot has been freshman Jennie Hartjes (8-12). CU’s No. 1 doubles squad consists of Hartjes and sophomore Analese Snyder, who are 7-7 on the spring, while the most successful tandem has been McMullan and fellow senior Kelsey Schmidt at No. 2 doubles (12-4).
On the men’s side, Creighton (9-9, 0-5 MVC) is seeded sixth and faces No. 3-seed Bradley (14-13, 2-3 MVC) in quarterfinal-round action, starting at 3 pm on Friday. The winner of that match faces No. 2-seed Wichita State (15-5, 4-1 MVC) at 1 pm on Saturday. Creighton lost to Bradley, 5-2, when the teams met in Omaha on April 7th.
Other quarterfinal round matches include No. 5-seed Southern Illinois (8-13, 2-3 MVC) against No. 4-seed Illinois State (8-13, 2-3 MVC) at 3 pm. The winner of the SIU-ISU match takes on top-seeded Drake (22-2, 5-0 MVC) at 1 pm on Saturday in semfinal round competition.
Defending tournament champion Drake is ranked No. 48 nationally and enters the Valley championship as the favorite after going 5-0 in Valley play. The Bulldogs clinched the regular-season title with a 4-3 win vs. Wichita State last Saturday that came down to a three-set match at No. 6 singles.
The Creighton men are led by junior Billy Paluch, who is 11-7 this spring at the No. 1 singles position. Paluch and Kyle Obermeier have recently teamed up at CU's No. 1 doubles position, going 2-2 in Valley play at that slot. Also playing well in Valley doubles play have been Elliott Baker and J.T. Christian, who went 2-2 in MVC tilts.
In the event of inclement weather, the tournament would move inside to Hanscom Indoor Tennis Center (3220 Ed Creighton Ave.). Creighton’s twitter account (http://www.twitter.com/gocreighton) will keep fans posted should the site be moved.