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AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron tennis team travels to Evanston, Ill., this week to face off against Northwestern in the first round of the NCAA Championships Evanston Regional on Friday at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) at Vandy Christie Tennis Center. The Zips, who are unseeded in the field of 64, will take on the 13th-seeded Wildcats for the first time in program history.
Fans can follow live statistics via the Evanston NCAA Regional Central Page.
Akron (24-3), the only school in the Mid-American Conference and state of Ohio in the bracket, is making its second-straight and second-ever appearance in the NCAA Championships after winning the program's second-consecutive MAC tournament title on April 29, when it defeated Miami (Ohio) 4-3 in DeKalb, Ill. Junior Prang Pantusart scored a three-set, last-match-on-court win at No. 3 singles to give the second-seeded Zips a comeback victory over the top-seeded RedHawks.
UA's 24 victories this season is the most since the 1990-91 squad finished with a 26-6 mark, and ties Duke as the second-highest win total in this year's NCAA Tournament field. College of Charleston is first at 25-5. The Zips finished the 2011 season with a 20-5 record, following a 4-0 loss to Michigan in the first round of the NCAA event in the Ann Arbor Regional.
Northwestern (18-8), the Big Ten Conference regular-season champion and ranked No. 11 nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, has been chosen to host the opening rounds for the 13th-straight season. Joining NU and the Zips in Evanston this time around will be Notre Dame and Hawaii. The two winners from Friday will play one another on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT). The second-round winner will advance to the round of 16 at the University of Georgia's Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on May 17.
The Zips' conference title, the fifth in 2011-12 for an Akron Athletics team, rounded out an exciting last week of the month of April for the program. Leading into the league tournament, 16-year-old Olga Shkundina was named league freshman-of-the-year and also earned a spot on the All-MAC First Team. Additionally, senior Zara Harutyunyan was named to the all-conference first team and Pantusart to the all-league second team. Harutyunyan and Pantusart were each placed on the MAC All-Tournament Team, with Pantusart being chosen as the event's MVP.
Along with the tennis program, Zips Athletics teams have claimed MAC championships in men's soccer (regular-season), men's basketball (regular-season), and men's indoor track and field during the current academic year. Additionally, the rifle team claimed the Mid-Atlantic Conference smallbore master class division championship in February.