NCAA First Round Pits Cats Against Ohio State

May 7, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - It was a chilly February day when the No. 26 Wildcats (12-10 overall, 3-8 Southeastern Conference) and No. 37 Buckeyes (15-10, 7-3 Big Ten) last met. The teams fought for five straight hours while five courts went into three sets including the clinching match on court five. Kentucky would come out on top that day, 4-3. Fate would have it that the two teams should meet again in the 2009 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship First Round. UK and Ohio State will faceoff at host school Northwestern's Vandy Christie Tennis Center on May 8 at 11 a.m. ET.

"It's a tough draw," Head coach Carlos Drada. "But we are used to that kind of competition playing in the SEC. Every time you go out there, you compete and have the possibility to beat anyone."

UK has participated in the NCAA Tournament a total of 19 times since 1986 with this year being the team's 13th consecutive trip.

"For the coaching staff, it's a great feeling to consistently get into the tournament," Drada said. "I believe it is structure and the fact that we aren't satisfied that gets us there each year."

Last season the Cats advanced to the second round after defeating Boise State, but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Vanderbilt, 4-3, in Nashville, Tenn.Kentucky holds a commanding 12-1 all-time overall series advantage over the Buckeyes. UK has won the last six contests between the two teams and hasn't incurred a loss to OSU since 1999. The last meeting saw Ohio State take the doubles point. However, the Cats' singles play overpowered and outlasted the Buckeyes, grabbing four wins first on courts one, three, four and five.

The 111th-ranked Megan Broderick and senior Carolina Escamilla top Kentucky's singles line-up with Columbus, Ohio, native Christine Johnston taking the third spot. Freshman Caroline Lilley leads the team with 24 overall singles wins this season. UK's doubles attack is headed by the 31st-ranked doubles team of Escamilla and Lilley who are 9-8 this season at No. 1 doubles, while Johnston and Broderick have played at the second position, where they are 8-8. Junior Whitney Spencer and sophomore Lauren Meier anchor doubles for Kentucky and hold an impressive 8-4 record this spring. Escamilla and Lilley were recently selected to go to the NCAA Doubles Tournament which starts May 20.

Rounding out the teams playing in Evanston, Ill., are the University of Miami RedHawks (16-6, 4-0 MAC) and host school Northwestern. MU is making its NCAA tournament debut as they face the No. 1 NU Wildcats during the second match of day one. Miami is coming off a 12-match winning streak which was kept alive as the team claimed their first Mid-American Conference tournament title. The RedHawks defeated Western Michigan in the MAC finals 4-0 to earn an automatic bid into the tournament.

Northwestern was deemed the No. 1 overall tournament seed after sitting in the top spot all season and holding a 25-1 overall record and a clean 10-0 record in the Big Ten. The Wildcats of NU have suffered only one defeat all season which was to No. 3 Duke earlier in the season. Northwestern is riding a 17-match winning streak and enters NCAA's after notching the team's 11th consecutive league title.

Kentucky will face the winner of Northwestern vs. Miami (OH) on Saturday, May 9 at 1 p.m. ET should they surpass Ohio State for the second time this season.

The successor of both rounds will advance to the "Sweet Sixteen" in College Station, Texas, hosted by Texas A&M on May 15 through May 19.