Pioneers earn third straight NCAA berth, to play Flagler in first round on Monday

Pioneers earn third straight NCAA berth, to play Flagler in first round on Monday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- For the third consecutive year, the Tusculum women's tennis team has received a bid to the NCAA Division II Championships, and will play Flagler College in the opening round of the Southeast Region on Monday in Columbus, Georgia.

The Pioneers (17-3) are seeded third in the region after winning the South Atlantic Conference regular-season championship with a perfect 10-0 record and advancing to the SAC Championship tournament finals. Tusculum's SAC regular-season title was its first since 2010 and the sixth in program history.

The Saints (16-6) were seeded sixth in the NCAA field after going 8-1 in the Peach Belt Conference and being eliminated by North Georgia in the league semifinals. Flagler had a 5-6 record against ranked opponents, with four of their seven straight wins to end the regular season coming against teams in the ITA Division II national team rankings.

The winner of the match between the Pioneers and the Saints, which will be played at noon on Monday, will play the winner of the match between second-seeded host Columbus State (22-4) and seventh-seeded Emmanuel (16-10) in the second round on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The Cougars won the Peach Belt Conference regular-season and tournament championships, and beat the Pioneers in last year's second round en route to an appearance in the NCAA semifinals. The Lions won their first-ever Conference Carolinas tournament championship by sweeping three matches, including a 4-0 win over Mount Olive in the final.

Wingate is the top seed and is hosting the other half of the Southeast Region bracket, and will face the winner of the first-round match between fourth-seeded North Georgia and fifth-seeded Queens. The winner from each regional site will advance to the 16-team national tournament at Altamonte Springs, Florida from May 22-25.

Tusculum is making its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, including its seventh as an at-large selection. Tusculum is 2-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, with wins over Wingate in 2003 and Queens last season.

A total of seven teams were selected to represent the Southeast Region in the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships. Three of the selections were automatic bids to conference championships: Columbus State (Peach Belt Conference), Wingate (SAC) and Emmanuel (Conference Carolinas). The four at-large teams were selected by a series of criteria, including in-region winning percentage, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, and results against common opponents.

2019 NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships
Southeast Region

at Columbus, Georgia
Monday, May 13
#2 Columbus State vs. #7 Emmanuel, 9 a.m.
#3 Tusculum vs. #6 Flagler, noon
Tuesday, May 14
Tusculum/Flagler winner vs. Columbus State/Emmanuel winner, 1 p.m.

at Wingate, North Carolina
Monday, May 13
#4 North Georgia vs. #5 Queens
Tuesday, May 14
#1 Wingate vs. North Georgia/Queens winner