No. 12 Women's Tennis draws No. 21 Bethel in NAIA First Round
By Matt Green
2012 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship
#12 Shorter (20-8) vs. #21 Bethel (15-5)
Tuesday, May 15 • 9 am • Mobile Tennis Center
KANSAS CITY – The Shorter University women's tennis team may get a taste of déjà vu when it heads to Mobile, Ala., for the 2012 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship.
This time, the Lady Hawks are hoping for a different outcome.
12th-ranked Shorter learned its national tournament fate on Tuesday afternoon as the NAIA released this year's 24-team bracket. The Lady Hawks will square off with No. 21 Bethel (Kan.) in the tournament's opening round set for Tuesday, May 15 at 9 am CST.
The winner will advance take on fifth-seeded Azusa Pacific, which earned a first round bye as one of the tournament's top eight seeds, in the Round of 16 that begins on Wednesday at 9 am.
Shorter (20-8) is making its 10th appearance in the NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship and first since 2010 after the Lady Hawks came up just short of a bid last season. The Lady Hawks earned the seventh of 12 at-large bids to this year's event and are looking to improve upon their 8-9 all-time record in the national tournament.
Bethel (15-5) enters the national event as the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament champion and is making a fourth appearance at the championships. Bethel has never won a national tournament match and its 0-3 all-time nationals record includes a 9-0 loss to Shorter in the 2010 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship first round.
Shorter's road to a potential first national championship is eerily similar to the one it faced in 2010. Following their blanking of Bethel in the first round that season, the Lady Hawks were matched up with a then seventh-ranked Azusa Pacific, which dealt Shorter a season-ending 5-0 defeat in the Round of 16.
Shorter hopes another matchup with the Cougars in the Round of 16 is on the horizon, but with a different result than the 2010 outcome.
Like Shorter, Azusa Pacific (18-3), a storied program still in search of a first women's tennis national championship despite 13 national tournament appearances, is headed for NCAA Division II in 2012-2013. Only Auburn-Montgomery, Indiana Wesleyan and Point Loma have as many national tournament appearances on their resumes as Azusa Pacific.
The 2012 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship commences from May 15-19 at the Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. The championship match is set for Saturday, May 19 at 10 am.