The Utah men’s tennis team is headed back to the NCAA Championships for the first time in a long, long time.
How long? Try 1997.
The Utes will travel to Norman, Oklahoma and play the No. 14-seeded Sooners in the first round on May 11.
“I am a little shaken up,” Ute senior Santiago Sierra said in a news release. “I am just experiencing all these emotions after finding out we qualified about five minutes ago. I am proud of the hard work we have put in the last four years and everyone who has been a part of this program.”
Added senior Egbert Weverink: “I am overjoyed at this point. We started off really well and then suffered some tough losses. When I came here, I wanted to make an impact and leave it at a different place from where we started. I think it is a testament to the hard work we have all put in.”
How huge is this for Utah’s tennis program?
“We made it back for the first time in 21 years,” Utah coach Roeland Brateanu said. “When I played, we never made it. I think many of my teammates will be shocked that we earned an at-large bid. To come from playing in a public park and needing to win a conference tournament to having our own amazing facility and playing against the best teams in the nation, I am going to let this settle in for the next couple of days.”
Utah finished the regular season 17-2 in non-conference play and ranked as high as No. 24 in the nation after winning its first two Pac-12 matches for the first time since joining the conference in 2012
Dan Little is Utah’s highest-ranked singles player and has a record of 17-6 this season. Sierra has also amassed a solid singles record of 18-4.