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Tuesday, May 1, 2012 8:20 p.m.

Men’s tennis set for rematch in NCAA tournament first round

Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher

The Colonials will face Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

The Colonials (17-7) will travel to Durham, N.C. May 12 to face the No. 8 seed Blue Devils. This year, GW boasts two strong additions to its roster: freshman Francisco Dias, who was recently named the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie Performer, and senior Ugur Atalay.

Atalay missed the tournament last season for personal reasons but said he is eager to compete in his first NCAA tournament at the end of his final collegiate season.

“For me, this year is special because last year I had to go back home before NCAA’s for unfortunate reasons,” Atalay said. “I’m going to be playing in NCAA’s for the first time in my life. I’m really excited and all of my teammates are really excited.”

GW will take on a deep Blue Devils squad, one that swept the Colonials in postseason play in 2011. Duke went 22-5 this season en route to its NCAA bid.

But after today’s NCAA selection show, the Colonials were quick to point out they pulled off three upsets en route to the A-10 title and beat a nationally-ranked Radford squad this season.

“They are definitely more experienced. There are guys who have been playing in international tournaments before they come to college. Their experience in professional tournaments is more so than us at this point,” Atalay said. “But GW is getting better. We are really practicing hard for this. We always have the chance to beat anyone in the nation.”

Both teams are familiar with each other from last year’s NCAA tournament, and head coach Greg Munoz said he was excited for a rematch against the Blue Devils.

The Colonials were underdogs throughout the 2012 season, before nabbing their second straight A-10 crown and numerous postseason accolades. Still, Munoz knows his team is not favored against the Blue Devils, and said GW will need to rise to the occasion.

“We have one year under our belt against them,” Munoz said. “They know what it’s like to play at the top so it’s not like they’ll ever be unprepared. Now we are just more prepared.”