Kansas City (13-10, 5-0 SL) heads to its third straight NCAA Tournament this week, and will have its toughest task in school history, playing the No. 1 team in the nation, UCLA in the opening round at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus, Friday at 3:00 p.m. CT.
The Bruins are No. 1 in the nation and boast a 24-1 overall record after winning the Pac-12 Tournament Championship. Their only loss on the year is to rival USC on February 17, giving them a 15-match win streak coming into the NCAA Tourney. The Bruins have five players with 20+ wins in the lineup, three of which qualified for the NCAA singles championship in Dennis Novikov, Marcos Giron and Adrien Puget. Kansas City has faced UCLA only one other time, falling 4-0 to the No. 2 Bruins in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.
WHO IS COMPETING
LAST TIME OUT
Kansas City won its third consecutive Summit League Tournament title, taking out fourth-seeded IPFW in the semifinal by a 5-1 score, before knocking off No. 3 seed IUPUI by a 4-0 margin in the championship. The ‘Roos did all this without second-leading win total man Tomas Patino, who was injured.
FOUR STRAIGHT IN THE LEAGUE
Kansas City claimed its fourth consecutive Summit League regular season title this season, going 5-0 in league play. In the four-year run, Kansas City has lost only one league dual, posting a 21-1 record in that span.
IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
UMKC (13-10) is playing in its third consecutive NCAA Tournament and sixth all-time. It is the fourth appearance under current head coach Kendell Hale in his six-years at the helm. Last season the ‘Roos fell to No. 10 Oklahoma in the opening round, while dropping a contest to No. 14 Texas in 2011. UMKC also fell to No. 17 USC (1999), No. 2 UCLA (2000) and No. 6 Baylor (2009), going 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins are making their 37th NCAA Tournament appearance, the most of any team in the field. They have a rich tennis history, with four national titles, the last of which came in 2005. They are 104-32 all-time in the tournament.
A NUMBER 1 FIRST
This is the first time in school history that UMKC has faced the No. 1 team in the nation. The previous highest ranking was in 2000 when the ‘Roos faced UCLA as the No. 2 team in the country. In 2009, UMKC played against No. 6 Baylor, while playing No. 10 Oklahoma a year ago, marking all of the top-10 opponents in school history.
Grant Fleming has compiled 50 wins in singles play during his career as a ‘Roo, breaking the previous school record of 48 wins held by Craig Gansen and Gustavo Guerin. Abdul Alawadhi is not far behind, posting 47 wins to sit third. Fleming also leads the team with 19 wins this season, breaking the previous record of 18 held by Serge Ristivojevic.
In doubles play, Fleming has 36 wins, ranking T-7th all-time, while Alawadhi has posted 34 victories to rank T-11th. Patino leads the team this season with 18 doubles wins, matching the single season record mark.
HEAD COACH KENDELL HALE
Kendell Hale is in his fifth season as the head coach of the UMKC men’s tennis program. Overall, the 2012-13 season is Hale’s 19th as a collegiate head coach, and compiled a 340-242 overall combined record coming into 2012-13. He has a current 76-56 mark with the men. Hale has coached 23 all-league selections and has taken the ‘Roos to four regular season titles, four tournament crowns, and four NCAA Tournament appearances.
This season, UMKC won its fourth straight regular season title, third straight tournament crown, and boasted four players to the All-Summit League team. He also had two players finish their senior seasons in the top three all-time in wins with Fleming and Alawadhi.