After going 11 years in between NCAA tournament berths, the Tulane men’s tennis team had to wait a little bit longer than it wanted Tuesday to know for sure the dry spell was over.
The Green Wave, 31st in the latest International Tennis Association college rankings, was one of the last four teams to appear on the bracket during the live NCAA stream of the selection show. The delay created some anxious moments at the live watch party inside the Glazer Club at Yulman Stadium, even though the players knew they were virtually assured of a spot in the 64-team field.
They celebrated with high fives and hugs.
“It’s an awesome feeling after being here for four years,” said senior Dominik Koepfer, who was ranked No. 1 nationally for almost the entire spring before slipping to No. 3 at the end of April. “We always set our goal to make the NCAAs, and last year we missed by one spot. We were in the same place looking at the selection show, and this time we finally made it.”
The Green Wave (15-8) will face No. 38 Dartmouth (18-8) in a round-of-64 match either May 13 or 14 at Chapel Hill, N.C. The two teams played indoors at Dartmouth on Jan. 31, with Tulane losing 4-3
The winner likely will get No. 2 North Carolina, which plays Charleston in the first round, the following day. The exact time and date for the opening round had not been determined as of Tuesday evening.
Tulane reached the NCAAs nine straight times from 1997 to 2005 before the effects of Hurricane Katrina forced it to drop the program until 2009-10. What followed were 3-17, 11-11, 12-11, 12-8, 15-9 and 16-7 years under coach Mark Booras.
This season, the Wave beat five teams ranked among the top 50, including No. 30 San Diego and No. 36 LSU.
“It’s been a long road, but the feeling is fantastic to be able to see the fruits of our labor come through and our name get called in the NCAA tournament,” Booras said. “I’m so thankful to work here and so thankful for the administration that has been so patient with us as we rebuilt the program from scratch.”