Home Court Advantage
Noah Brady | MTN Sports Director, May 5th
Murfreesboro, TN—When you think about taking advantage of playing on your own home court, no one does it much better than a group of talented international student athletes from Middle Tennessee State University.
This season eight of the 27 wins the Blue Raiders collected were against power 5 schools. They won the 74th annual Blue Gray championship—one of the most prestigious trophies to hoist in the collegiate tennis world—and the men’s tennis program reached its highest rank since the 90’s remaining in the top 20 for a majority of the season.
As the Blue Raiders, athletic administration and fans gathered for the 2022 NCAA Tournament selection show on May 2nd, they already knew they had a spot having clinched their third straight Conference USA championship. The question was, might they be seeded.
The top 16 teams in the NCAA not only receive a seed in the tournament, but they are also granted home field advantage as they are able to “host” three other teams in their section of the bracket of 64.
The thought of playing at home as one of those top 16 seeded teams filled the air in the Jeff Hendrix stadium club following the Blue Raider’s very successful 27-4 regular season record; however, when the time came to announce MT’s position, multiple surprises ensued. The sweet number 16 seed which was the final “host” seed went to the Blue Raiders.
This was the highest they had ever been seeded going into the tournament, but the real shocker came moments later when the commentary team from the live streaming broadcast announced the Blue Raiders would be traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina to play (20)NC State.
Since the start of the 2018-2019 season the Blue Raiders men’s tennis squad are 43-4 at home. A home field advantage like no other. While coach Jimmy Borendame and his squad always have claimed to never think about their famous home win streak—33 straight—that ended earlier this year, it’s powerful reminder of how hard it is for any team to beat them at the Adams Tennis Complex in Murfreesboro, TN.
It was not until days later that MT Athletics in an effort to keep the coaches and players focused on the task at hand in Raleigh, released this statement:
“We are thrilled to be the No. 1 seed in the Raleigh Regional and 16th overall in the NCAA Men’s Tennis national tournament. Middle Tennessee is proud of this historic accomplishment. We missed the April 22 deadline to apply to host potential regional games due to an unfortunate oversight. It was a painful lesson to learn, but it will not be repeated. Our focus now is making sure our players and coaches have a successful run in Raleigh.”
When the NCAA communications office was asked to comment, their response was, “regarding the DI men’s tennis regionals, the NCAA national office can’t answer host bidding questions regarding non-predetermined sites.”
Alex Gruskin of Cracked Rackets—a digital news publication devoted to collegiate tennis coverage--confirmed the reasoning, and also described the “bidding” process in more detail stating, “I can confirm that the school failed to submit a host bid, which is why they have to go on the road despite being a top 16 seed. The NCAA committee chooses the seeding, but every team that’s in the running for top 16 is supposed to submit a host bid before the selection committee makes their choice. Middle Tennessee’s athletic administration did not do so.”
Despite the road trip, the Blue Raiders’ run in the tournament started off piping hot with a dominant 4-0 victory over UNC Wilmington; however, the historic season for the Blue Raiders did not survive the weekend as they fell short in a six-hour heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to the unseeded home team, North Carolina State. NC State will advance to the Super Regionals to face the number one seed Texas Christian University. The Blue Raiders will return to Murfreesboro wondering if they would have gotten it done if only given the chance at home.