The sixth-ranked Wildcats' women's team (24-3, 5-0 LSC) begins play at 7 a.m. (CT) at Louisville's Top Gun Tennis Academy vs. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, while the 11th-ranked ACU men (20-8, 3-0 LSC) are scheduled for a 1 p.m. rematch vs. No. 31 Northern Kentucky at E.P. Sawyer State Park.
The Wildcats defeated the NKU Norse (16-6, 4-1 GLVC), 6-3, on Feb. 4, a match in which which ACU won four of six singles and lost two others in three sets.
The Norse went on to finish the regular season at 13-4 and place fourth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which was good enough to give them the Midwest Region's No. 6 seed. From there, NKU upset conference champion and No. 32-ranked Southern Indiana, 5-4, in the first round, and then upended top-seeded and No. 11 Northwood (Mich.) by the same margin.
Winners of 17 DII dual matches and the Lone Star Conference championship, the Wildcats earned the right to compete at their sixth-straight national tournament after beating Northwest Missouri State, 5-0, in the South Central Region championship played on May 1.
Sixth-ranked singles player Hans Hach again led ACU from the top line as he beat both Calvin Patterson, 6-3, 6-2, and the 25th-ranked team of Mario Jakovljevic and Jose Ortega, 8-4, with senior teammate Nick Plum. Hach's doubles' victory lifted his season record to 25-1, while his singles' triumph was his 22nd of the spring against four losses - all of which have come against DI opponents.
Plum also has been very effective in singles competition, winning 19 times between the No. 2 and 3 positions, while freshman Borja Cortes has given the club 18 victories.
Should ACU bring a close to NKU's Cinderella story, its quarterfinal opponent will either be No. 3 Lynn or No. 36 Western New Mexico. Lynn, which is making its first NCAA Championship appearance in three years, comes to Louisville with an overall record of 20-3 after beating No. 23 Florida Southern, 5-0, and No. 4 Barry, 5-2, in the South Region tournament.
Barry University won the 2010 NCAA Championship and was the national runner-up to Valdosta State in 2011. The Buccaneers eliminated the Wildcats from last year's tournament following a 5-0 quarterfinal win.
The Fighting Knights of Lynn, which finished 6-0 in the Sunshine State Conference, are led by nationally ranked singles players Willi Wolfer (No. 13), Vlad Cirla (No. 18), and Luca Pavanelli (No. 40). Wolfer and Cirla also comprise the third-ranked doubles team in DII.
Western New Mexico (15-9, 6-0 RMAC) qualified for the tournament after beating Nebraska-Kearney, 5-0, for the conference title, and St. Cloud State, 5-0, in the Central Regional tournament. The Mustangs are led at the top of their order by No. 43 Rodrigo Almeida.
The fourth-ranked Lynn's women's team, which finished as the national runner-up to Barry a year ago after ousting ACU in the quarterfinals, is a possible second-round opponent for the Wildcats at this year's championship. The Fighting Knights enter the week with a 20-4 record and earned their 16th-straight trip to nationals after defeating No. 9 West Florida, 5-1, to win the South Region title.
The Lynn lineup is headlined by No. 3 Ioana Ivan and No. 19 Sabine Krause, who together form the No. 3 doubles tandem in DII. Wildcats Micah Hermsdorf and Hannah Kelley - DII's 10th-ranked duo - defeated Ivan and Krause, 1-6, 6-3, 10-4, last fall at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, and in singles play there, Julia Mongin beat Ivan, 6-4, 6-4 in the third-place match.
But before the Wildcats can concern themselves with the three-time NCAA Champions, they'll first have to get past No. 35 Indiana (Pa.), which finished the year as the No. 2 team in the Atlantic Region with an overall record of 22-7. The Crimson Hawks claim four regionally ranked players in Tabtip Louhabanjong, Tanya Timko, Katie Eaton and Abby McCormick, as well as the No. 21 doubles pairing of Timko and Emilia Osborne.
Queens (N.Y.) College is Lynn's first-round opponent and the fourth team within ACU's side of the bracket. The 26th-ranked Knights own an 18-1 record this year, and most recently beat Concordia (N.Y.), 5-4, in the East Region championship to make it into this week's third-round match.
The Wildcats have steamrolled all of their DII opposition this season, and their 5-0 regional championship win over No. 36 St. Edward's marked their 14th shutout of the season and 22nd win while allowing one or fewer points. ACU finished its regular season 10-0 against nationally ranked DII squads, a list that includes No. 10 Rollins, No. 14 Cameron, No. 17 Cal State Los Angeles, and No. 21 UC San Diego.
In singles play, ACU's eight-woman team led by Mongin at the top position has posted an overall record of 131-16 (.891) with no one player or position losing more than four times. The doubles teams have been equally dominant with 20 different combinations registering an overall record of 67-13 (.837).
With an overall No. 1 singles' record of 16-1, Mongin is ranked second nationally to Annie Hwang of BYU-Hawaii. Hermsdorf (21-4) is ranked 36th.
The NCAA Tennis Championships are part of the 2012 DII Spring Festival, which is being hosted by the Louisville Sports Commission and Bellarmine University. The festival also includes the DII national championship tournaments for men's and women's golf, lacrosse, and softball.