KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A five-year extension has been given to Mobile, Ala., as the host for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's and Women's Tennis National Championships. The agreement keeps the event at the Mobile Tennis Center through the 2021 season.
"The NAIA is very pleased to have continued partnerships with both the city of Mobile and the Mobile Area Tennis Association for the coming years as the hosts of our Men's and Women's Tennis National Championships," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. "The student-athletes, coaches and fans always are welcomed with a very well organized event. We are proud of the efforts that the Mobile community puts forth to host this event."
"We want to thank the NAIA for showing the confidence in Mobile to extend their prestigious tennis national championships for another five years. Scott Novak and his staff do a great job with our tournaments at the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center and the Mobile Sports Authority is proud to help support Scott and his team, especially with this important event," said Danny Corte, Executive Director of Mobile Sports Authority.
The Mobile Tennis Center, a 60-court facility located in the western suburbs of the city, has hosted the NAIA Men's and Women's Tennis National Championships since 2004. In addition to the NAIA, the facility welcomes numerous tournaments throughout the year, including both United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Bay Area Tennis Association (BATA) league matches.
"We are excited to have the NAIA Tennis Championships in Mobile for another five years," said Scott Novak, Mobile Tennis Center General Manager. "We feel honored that the NAIA would choose Mobile as we know there is always great competition with other cities to host the 48 teams that compromise the championships. This event has brought great tennis to Mobile and has become a staple in our community."
In its 13 championships that have been hosted there, Mobile has held the event the second longest, after Kansas City hosted the championship from 1960-93. Other sites that have played host include Tulsa, Okla., Boca Raton, Fla., Lexington, Ky., and Peachtree City, Ga.
"We are extremely pleased to learn of the extension of the NAIA Tennis National Championships for the next five years in Mobile. We must congratulate Scott Novak and his team at the Mobile Tennis Center for doing a remarkable job in hosting the tournament. From a Destination Marketing Organization standpoint, it is fantastic news for our city to be able to serve the coaches, players and families of the NAIA schools. Our community will be thrilled to learn of this agreement," said Al Hutchinson, President of Visit Mobile.
The 2017 national championships begins May 16 and runs through May 20. Both the men's and women's tournaments consist of a 24-team field comprised of automatic qualifiers from NAIA affiliated conferences/independent/unaffiliated groups, plus at-large selections and a potential host berth. Eight matches will be contested during each of the first two days, with the quarterfinals set for May 18, the semifinals on May 19 and with the final on May 20 at 10 a.m. CDT.
Georgie Gwinnett has been the top team recently, with their men winning the last three national championships and the women earning their second in school history in 2016 as well. Currently, there are 97 NAIA institutions who sponsors men's tennis, and 109 women's teams within the NAIA. The team format for the tournament has been around since 2000. During that time, former NAIA institution Redlands (Calif.) won 11 championships, while former NAIA member Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) is second with nine.
For the women, Auburn Montgomery also has been dominate, winning nine championships since 2002 which included a six-peat from 2004-2009.
Starting in 1952, the NAIA has held a championship for men's tennis with Pepperdine (Calif.), a then NAIA institute, winning the first-ever national championship held in Abilene, Texas. For the women, they have had their chance at a national title since 1981 when Overland Park, Kan. played host and Grand Canyon (Ariz.) and Guilford (N.C.) tied with 27 points.
To learn more about men's tennis in the NAIA, click here
. To learn more about women's NAIA tennis,click here.
By Nikki Sherrill, Communication & Sports Information Intern