NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Belmont University men's tennis team will face No. 15 seed Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Oxford, Mississippi in the 2021 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship, the NCAA announced Monday.
After claiming the Ohio Valley Conference regular season crown in 2018 and 2019, Belmont earned its first-ever OVC Tournament title with a dramatic 4-3 victory over Tennessee Tech on April 25.
The Bruins will be making their second NCAA Tournament appearance as a team in program history, their first being in 2006 as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
"We are extremely excited to play in the NCAA Tournament," Belmont Director of Tennis Mauricio Antun said. "We worked hard all these years and to finally see it pay off means a lot for these guys and this program. I am particularly happy for our seniors, who have gotten so close to making the tournament in previous years and will finally have a chance to taste the experience. I would also like to thank all of our former players, who worked hard to put this program on the national stage and they deserved this moment as well.
‼️ OLE MISS HERE WE COME ‼️@GoBelmontBruins Men's �� will face @OleMissMTennis in the 2021 @NCAATennis Championship, the same opponent the Bruins faced in the 2006 NCAA Tournament! #itsbruintime | #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/Eg4CpHGi0G— BelmontTennis (@BelmontTennis) May 3, 2021
Belmont compiled a 13-4 record in 2021, led by senior and 2021 OVC Men's Tennis Player of the Year Marko Ilic. Ilic, a three-time All-OVC First Team honoree, ranks fourth in program history in career singles victories with 58.
While the NCAA Tournament will be uncharted territory for his teammates, Ilic is no stranger to college tennis' biggest stage.
In 2019, Ilic and partner Hendrik Inno advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Doubles Championship held at USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida. The duo defeated Florida's McClain Kessler and Duarte Vale in straight sets 7-6, 7-6 before falling to No. 2 seed Maxime Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA.
Junior Arthur Toledo and freshman Tomas Luis also received all-conference awards in 2021, with both student-athletes being named to the All-OVC Second Team. Toledo co-led the team in singles wins with a 13-3 record while Luis was one of three freshmen on the roster to compile double-digit wins, having a 10-7 record in 2021.
Both players also made significant contributions in doubles play, where Luis went 11-2 with freshman Diego Castro, who clinched Belmont's victory in the OVC Championship match.
Toledo finished with an 8-4 overall doubles record while going 8-3 with senior Jake Briggs.
Senior Taisei Miyamoto compiled 11 doubles victories in 2021 with Ilic, the 12th-most in program history for a single season.
Ole Miss finished the 2021 regular season with an 11-10 record, collecting seven wins over top 50 ranked teams in the process. Tim Sandkaulen and Nikola Slavic lead the Rebels in singles play with 13 wins each, with Sandkaulen going 14-2 with Finn Reynolds in doubles play.
The Bruins played No. 14 Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, in their first NCAA Championship appearance in 2006, where the Rebels defeated the Bruins 4-0.
First serve is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday following the Middle Tennessee and Tulane match, with live stats and a video stream being available courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics.