Fans call it the “most exciting tennis tournament in the world.”
It sure is the most fun.
For the next 10 days, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s D-I Tennis Championships will be taking place at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia. The team championships will run first as the top collegiate teams from all over the country will battle it out as teams. The individual singles and doubles titles will then be crowned the last few days.
Thursday was the first day of the championships, which first came to Athens 45 years ago, and the men’s round of 16 was up first — the women get their turn Friday. Eight matches were played and two of them were absolute masterpieces, as exciting as just about any that have been played here.
The 13-seeded Georgia Bulldogs took the court in Henry Field Stadium at 4 p.m., against fourth-seeded USC: a matchup of two NCAA heavyweights — 21 all-time titles for the Trojans, six for the Dogs — who more typically have met in the semifinals or the final.
The match was all anyone could ask for as Georgia closed out the final two singles matches, both three-setters, within 20 seconds of each other and knocked off the Trojans, 4-3.
“They got us in a couple third sets,” USC coach Peter Smith said. “They played great and they were tough down the stretch, and they get to move on and we don’t.”
Unlike other tennis events, fans are encouraged to cheer and move around the stands to watch all the matches. It’s an environment you won’t find at any other tennis tournament.
The women begin play on Friday.
There will be television coverage.
The NCAA, in partnership with the United States Tennis Association, has announced that the team national championship matches of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships will be televised live on ESPNU.
“This is another big step in the growth of college tennis,” said Virgil Christian, USTA senior director, college tennis. “Collegiate team competition is truly something special to watch, and we’re thrilled to help showcase NCAA college tennis at its peak to a nationwide audience on ESPNU.”
From a pair of 64-team brackets, the remaining men’s teams begin round of 16 play on Thursday, May 18, in Athens, Georgia, while the remaining 16 women’s teams return to the court Friday, May 19 to set the stage for championship Tuesday on ESPNU.
For championship information and results, including live coverage of the rounds leading to the national championship matches, go to georgiadogs.com.