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University of Illinois Readies for First NCAA Tennis Championship
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It seems as if Stanford and Georgia (with a little Tulsa and College Station) have served as hosts of the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships over and over during the last decade. That's about to change as the tournament makes its way to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It's the first time the school is hosting, and the first time the tournament has been in the Midwest since 1998.

The championships will take place at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center, giving players and teams access to 24 outdoor courts, as well as six indoor courts for practice. It was a long road to getting the tournament to those facilities.

Holly Stalcup, the Illini Director of event manager and the championships director, worked with Head Men's Tennis Coach Brad Dancer and Head Women's Tennis Coach Michelle Dasso, as well as other members of the Department of Athletics and the community to prepare the bid for the NCAA. When the university survived the first cut, they still had to go through conference calls with additional questions, before they received the call in June 2010 announcing that the championships were theirs.

"These Championships would not be possible without the great work by so many staff members in our department," acknowledges Stalcup, though she is more prepared than many. "I have had the great opportunity to travel to Stanford and Georgia and observe the fantastic Championships they have put on. We are excited for everyone to come to Urbana-Champaign and see firsthand our incredible facilities. We think a nice thing with our set-up is that all coaches, student-athletes, and fans will be able to see all 12 courts in one location."

Coach Dasso agrees, "The fact that we are the first school in the Midwest to host the combined Men's and Women's NCAA Championships speaks volumes for our university. We have one of the finest facilities in the country and to be able to showcase our facility and support to other players, coaches, and avid tennis fans is very unique and special."

Dasso also understands the excitement for the players as she was able to play the NCAAs on her home court (Notre Dame) in 1998. "Hosting NCAA's is something we have talked about with our players since the day we found out we received the bid to host," she says. "They are certainly excited but it's hard to really grasp a full understanding until you are in the thick of it. We need to stay in the present moment with the present match at hand and manage our emotions."

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