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Wildcat Wrap: Arizona men’s tennis to face Michigan in first round of NCAA Tournament

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Photo by Arizona Athletics

Arizona men’s tennis is headed back to the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (19-7) will face Michigan (15-4) in the tournament’s opening round on Friday at 7 a.m. PT at pod host Kentucky. If Arizona advances, it will likely take on UK, the No. 14 seed, who opens play against Cleveland State.

This is Arizona’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Clancy Shields.

Arizona, which entered the postseason ranked No. 19 in the latest Oracle ITA Coaches Poll, missed out on a top-16 national seed by a couple spots.

The UA is led by Gustaf Strom, a freshman from Sweden who is ranked No. 44 collegiately by Oracle ITA. Junior Jonas Ziverts, also from Sweden, is ranked No. 88 in the nation.

Michigan doesn’t have any nationally ranked individuals but does feature the No. 45 ranked doubles pairing. The Wolverines went 14-2 in Big Ten play including a top-10 victory over Ohio State on March 14.

Both Arizona and Michigan are coming off league tournament semifinal losses to higher-ranked opponents.

The UA fell to No. 15 ranked USC 4-1 in the Pac-12 Tournament while Michigan lost to No. 13 ranked Illinois 4-2 in the Big Ten Tournament.

If Arizona advances, it will almost certainly face Kentucky in the second round. That’s where the Wildcats of Tucson could really run into some trouble.

Kentucky boasts the nation’s No. 1 player, Liam Draxl. The sophomore from Ontario is 19-2 on the year, with all his matches coming on the top seeded court. The UK also has the No. 33 player, Millen Hurrion, a senior from England.

The Wildcats have advanced to the second round just twice (2004 and 2009) and never made it past there.

Senior Alejandro Reguant enters the tournament one win away from tying the Arizona’s all-time wins leader, Roger Matalonga.

Beach volleyball

The beach volleyball team saw their season come to an end over the weekend with losses to UCLA and Cal in the Pac-12 Championships.

Arizona was not selected Sunday to the eight-team NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats began its run at the Pac-12s with a 3-0 sweep over Arizona State Thursday. No. 3 seed Arizona then was swept 3-0 by No. 2 seed UCLA early Friday afternoon.

Later Friday, the Wildcats lost 3-2 to California, a team Arizona had beaten 4-1 less than a month ago in Phoenix.

Arizona finishes the year 22-6.

Track and field

Track and field earned five event wins at last Saturday’s Desert Heat Classic held in Tucson.

The Arizona women placed first, second, and third for the women’s high jump, led by Lillian Lowe’s winning mark of 1.87m (6-1.5), a personal record.

“For Lily, that was just a long time coming,” Arizona head coach Fred Harvey said. “She’s been jumping very well. She hadn’t had a PR in three years, but she was jumping PRs in practice, it was just a matter of when it was going to happen in a competition. That was a big highlight.”

Samantha Noennig continued her dominance of the women’s shot put with a mark of 17.73m (58-2). She has yet to lose in the event in outdoor season.

Keelah Barger won the women’s 5000m, with a time of 17:08.81.

On the men’s side, Israel Oloyede won the hammer throw contest with a mark of 71.00m (232-11).

Johnnie Blockburger won the 400m sprint in a time of 45.25.

“You don’t want to discount Johnnie’s 400 because now that you have the 44.71 out there, running a 45.25 may not be as fast, but it’s still a remarkable time,” said Harvey.

Arizona track alum and Canadian Olympian Sage Watson also competed Saturday, winning the women’s 400m hurdles with a time of 55.46, third best in the world.

Men’s golf

Fresh off a Pac-12 championship, men’s golf awaits to hear its NCAA Tournament seeding Wednesday at 11 a.m. MST.

The selection show will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel.

The NCAA Tournament consists of six 13 or 14-team regionals, which are played over 54 holes. The top five teams from each regional will compete at the NCAA Championship.

Brentley Romine of the Golf Channel Arizona as the No. 3 seed in the Cle Elum, Wash. Regional in his latest bracketology. Seeding is less significant than geography – the Wildcats would very much like to stay out west. The other potential western Regional is Albuquerque, where ASU is projected to be the No. 2 seed.

ASU was consistently ranked higher than Arizona for much of the season, but the Wildcats got the upper hand at the Pac-12 Championships.

The in-state rivals are on a collision course to compete at the NCAAs, being played at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.