GREENWOOD - The No. 5-ranked Lander men's tennis team earned its 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance Tuesday night as the Bearcats received the No. 3 seed in the Division II Southeast Regional Tournament and will play Peach Belt Conference rival USC Aiken in a first-round match at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga.
"Playing in the NCAA Tournament is definitely one of our goals at the start of every season," said head coach Brett Simpson. "Everything is now geared toward playing our best tennis and advancing through the region."
Host Armstrong State (18-7) will face Georgia College (11-11) at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, April 29, while Lander (16-5) takes on USC Aiken (10-9).
"Playing USC Aiken in the first round will be a tough match, having just played at the conference tournament where we had to come back after trailing 2-1 going into singles," Simpson said. "Every match could be your last, so we will take it one step at a time."
The two winners will meet at 1:00 p.m., Sunday for the right to play in the NCAA Championships Round of 16, May 9-12 in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Lander defeated USC Aiken, 7-2, in a PBC match at the Bearcats' Joe Cabri Tennis Center, on March 18 and topped the Pacers, 5-2, in the quarterfinals of the PBC Tournament on April 21.
"It is never easy to make the NCAA Tournament," said Simpson, "especially when people expect it. A lot of preparation goes into each season. Maybe one day I will appreciate the [12-year] streak, but right now I am just focused on the present."