TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The 32nd-ranked Alabama men's tennis team (5-1) will head to Montgomery, Ala. to take part in the 2011 Blue Gray National Tennis Classic that is being held at Lagoon Park Feb. 25-27. The tournament will feature eight men's teams and eight women's teams. The Crimson Tide is slated to face No. 21 Pepperdine (6-2) in its first match on Friday at 2 p.m. CT.
"We're excited to participate in the Blue Gray this year after not being able to play last year because of the SEC schedule," Alabama Head Coach Billy Pate said. "This tournament has great significance for our team. Some of our best memories and experiences have been in this event. The entire community of Montgomery does a fantastic job of welcoming the teams and hosting a first class event, therefore it's very important for us to do our best and compete at the highest level."
In the past, the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic featured 16 men's teams, but this year it has moved to eight of both men's and women's teams. Joining the Tide and Waves in the men's field is No. 46 Arizona, No. 22 Auburn, No. 37 Boise State, No. 69 Penn State, No. 26 Notre Dame and No. 17 Texas Tech. Each team is guaranteed three matches.
"It's a very elite field this year and with the move from 16 to eight teams it makes it even more challenging," Pate added. "We are looking forward to playing against Pepperdine on Friday. This will be the fourth year in a row we have played the Waves, and we can count on a battle as it has been the last three years. They are well coached and play with a tremendous amount of intensity, but we'll be ready and look forward to a good match."
Alabama last played a pair of road matches where the Tide took down TCU 4-3 and SMU 6-1. Junior Ricky Doverspike improved to 5-1 on the season at No. 1 singles, while sophomore Jarryd Botha upped his season standing to 4-1 at No. 2.