After a bye, Rush will play Georgia foe in 2nd round of NAIA tennis tourney

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana men’s tennis received a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye Tuesday when the NAIA announced the bracket and seedings for its national championship tournament at Mobile, Ala.

The Gold Rush (11-5) will play in the second round — the round of 16 — at 9 a.m. May 17 against a Georgia opponent, 15th-seeded Reinhardt or 18th-seeded SCAD Savannah. The Eagles (13-5) and the Bees (8-8) will meet at 8:30 a.m. May 16 in the opening round. Tournament venue for the 14th consecutive year will be Copeland-Cox Mobile Tennis Center (851 Gaillard Drive, zip code 36608, phone 251-208-5181). Admission is free.

XULA will make its ninth consecutive appearance at nationals and ninth overall. The Gold Rush feature four nationally ranked singles players — No. 4 Antoine Richard, No. 19 Moses Micheal, No. 21 Karan Salwan and No. 34 Catalin Fifea — and three ranked doubles teams.

The No. 2 national seeding is the program’s highest ever. The Gold Rush have six dual-match victories this season against ranked opponents and three against NCAA Division I teams.

Reinhardt makes its third consecutive appearance at nationals and third overall. The Eagles, who qualified with an automatic bid by winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament, opened their dual-match season Feb. 16 by winning 5-4 at SCAD Savannah.

In the most recent meeting between XULA and Reinhardt, the Gold Rush won 9-0 at the 2009 Auburn Montgomery Invitational in Montgomery, Ala.

Like XULA, SCAD Savannah qualified with an at-large bid. The Bees make their fourth appearance at nationals and first since 2009. XULA defeated the Bees 6-0 in their most recent meeting at the 2016 Green and Gray Invitational in Lawrenceville, Ga.

If seedings prevail, XULA would face three teams it already played this year. The Gold Rush could draw No. 7 William Carey in the quarterfinals, No. 3 Keiser in the semifinals and No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett — the three-time defending champion — in the final. XULA is 2-0 in 2017 against William Carey, 1-0 against Keiser and 0-1 against Georgia Gwinnett. The Grizzlies defeated the Gold Rush 5-2 in the 2016 championship round.

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Ed Cassiere

Ed Cassiere

Sports Information Director, Xavier University of Louisiana

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