On Tuesday, the Purdue women’s tennis team was awarded an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, marking the fourth-straight year and eighth time in program history the team has qualified to compete on collegiate tennis’ biggest stage.
The Boilermakers finished 14-8 overall, including a 6-5 record in Big Ten play, and were able to advance to the second round of last weekend’s conference tournament before being eliminated by Ohio State. The Buckeyes were ranked No.18 in the country and were the runner-up in the Big Ten Tournament, falling to Michigan in the final.
After being bounced by the Buckeyes, Purdue was forced to endure an insufferable week of waiting and hoping it would be able to nab one of the remaining 32 at-large bids for the tournament. The team’s anxieties were quelled when it was revealed the Boilermakers had qualified and would be taking on Duke, also an at-large bid, in the opening round of the tournament.
Tuesday’s bid was especially significant to Purdue seniors Daniela Vidal and Lynda Xepoleas, who became the first players in the history of the women’s tennis program to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of their four years donning the black and gold. Neither Vidal nor Xepoleas actually competed during last year’s tournament though, with Vidal’s season being cut-short by injury and Xepoleas sitting in favor of other upperclassmen.
Luckily for the Boilers, both Vidal and Xepoleas are healthy and ready to contribute to this year’s NCAA run. The seniors will also be joined by a number of other sophomores and juniors with NCAA tourney experience, and that veteran savvy should give Purdue a good chance to avenge last season’s 4-0 first-round loss to then No.19 Georgia Tech.
Purdue was also fortunate to have a much more favorable draw in this year’s competition, with the team facing No.23 Duke as its opening match foe. The Blue Devils were 16-9 on the season this year and lost to Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
The Boilermakers’ opening round matchup with the Blue Devils will take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 9 in Athens, Georgia. The contest will mark the third time the two programs have met, with Duke leading the all-time series 2-0.