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April 29, 2004

USI Tennis to make fifth straight appearance in NCAA II Tournament

The University of Southern Indiana menís tennis team will be making its fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Tennis Tournament after receiving an at-large berth Wednesday. The NCAA II Great Lakes Regional will be May 7-8 and is hosted by Northwood University in Midland, Michigan.

USI, the fifth seed, will play fourth-seeded Northern Kentucky University in the first round. The winner of the USI-NKU match will advance to play the winner of the top-seeded Northwood and eighth-seeded West Liberty State College.

The Screaming Eagles, who began their post-season run in 2000, are making their second NCAA II Tournament appearance under Head Coach Ross Brown. Brown, who took over the USI program in 2002, has directed the Eagles to a 24-17 two-year record and two straight appearances in the GLVC Tournament finals.

In 2003-04, the Eagles are 14-7 overall and were 7-1 in the GLVC regular season. USI lost in the GLVC Championship, 5-4, in a match that went down to a third set tie-breaker.

Leading the way for the Eagles are their All-GLVC performers, freshman Joe Epkey (Greenwood, Indiana) and senior Weston Phillips (Henderson, Kentucky). Epkey, who was the GLVC Freshman of the Year, had a team-best 21-6 record (including a perfect 7-0 in the GLVC) at number one singles and combined with junior Kyle Taylor (Veedersburg, Indiana) for a 12-3 record at number two doubles.

Phillips, who set the USI all-time record for singles victories (81), was named to the All-GLVC team for the third straight season. He followed Epkey in the wins column with an 18-6 mark at number two singles and combined with junior Evan Luttrell (Logansport, Indiana) to post a 10-2 record at number three doubles.

Phillips and Epkey are followed in the singles line-up by junior Nim Shetty (India) at number three sophomore Ryan Hughes (England) at number four Luttrell at number five and Taylor at number six. Shetty had a 14-7 singles record, while Luttrell was a career-best 13-9.

In doubles, Hughes and Shetty are USIís number one combination. The pair were 12-8 overall, including a 6-2 record in the GLVC.

The regional champion will advance to the NCAA II National Finals, May 11-16, at the Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The finals will be a part of the first-ever Division II Sports Festival that is hosted by the Central Florida Sports Commission and the Sunshine State Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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