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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NCAA Division I Sweet Sixteen Begins with Eight Women's Matches Thursday; Isner Gives Advice to Players Battling for National Title


©Colette Lewis 2012--
Athens, GA--

The hydrangeas are blooming, the mulch is neatly placed around the manicured shrubbery and the Dan Magill Tennis Complex is ready for Thursday's start of 12 days of tennis.

Since I was last here in 2010, a handicapped access ramp and concrete retaining wall were added to the McWhorter courts, and the area feels much more spacious and open than it did in the past.  This afternoon teams were practicing on all 12 courts, trying to squeeze in a precious few minutes of work before the welcome banquet.

The women begin first this year, with eight matches scheduled for Thursday.  Covering all eight thoroughly is not possible, but as I've done in past years, I will try to get a photo and a brief synopsis of each match up throughout the day.  Live scoring and streaming are available at the tournament page at www.georgiadogs.com.

Thursday's women's round of 16 schedule is as follows:

9 am:
UCLA (1) vs. Rice
California (9) vs. Georgia Tech

Noon:
Southern California (5) vs Baylor (12)
Northwestern (13) vs Stanford (4)

4 pm:
Duke (3) vs Virginia (14)
Texas (11) vs Georgia (4)

7 pm:
North Carolina (7) vs Miami (10)
Michigan (15) vs Florida (2)

The times are approximate, and it would be very unusual for any of the matches aside from the 9 o'clocks to start on time.

The men's matches, which begin Friday, are scheduled as follows:

9 am:
USC (1) vs Illinois (16)
Baylor vs Duke (8)

Noon:
Ohio State (5) vs Florida (12)
Ole Miss (13) vs UCLA (4)

4 pm:
Virginia (3) vs California (14)
Stanford (11) vs Kentucky (6)

7 pm
Pepperdine (7) vs Tulsa
North Carolina (15) vs Georgia (2)

John Isner, who won the 2007 team title on his home courts in Athens, did a recent question and answer about his college days for at georgiadogs.com.  Isner had some interesting advice for those competing in the NCAAs for the first time.

"Don’t over-think it. Don’t get too hyped up before your match. Don’t waste energy getting too hyped up. Stay as calm as you possibly can beforehand, and when you go on the court just lay it all out there."

Isner also reiterated what he has said in previous interviews about the pressure of playing for and with a team.

"When I was playing at Georgia, I felt pressure not to let my teammates down. The worst feeling in the world is losing your match and knowing it affected the team. I think that college tennis – especially during the NCAAs – is as big a moment as I can think of. There’s so much riding on every match and every point, but with that pressure is a lot of fun."

The complete interview is available here.

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