ATHENS -- After finishing the regular season ranked 15th in the nation, the BYU doubles team of senior Damien Ward and sophomore Gert Vilms will start play in the NCAA men's tennis doubles championships Thursday in Athens, Ga.
Ward and Vilms, who finished the season with a 32-11 overall doubles record, will face David Hodge and Mark Williams of Baylor in the first round Thursday. Hodge and Williams are currently No. 8 in the country. Thursday's matchup will mark the 12th time this season that the pair of Cougars have faced a ranked doubles team. They are 6-5 against ranked opponents this season.
Ward participated in the doubles championships last season while paired with Manuel Calvo. The pair was eliminated 6-2, 6-4 by James Blake and Kunj Majmudar of Harvard. The Harvard team was ranked second in the country at the time.
Ward and Vilms come into the tournament as an automatic qualifier from Region VII. Boise State's Leif Meineke and Wesley Moodie are the only other doubles team from Region VII participating in the 32-team tournament.
The NCAA team tournament finished last Tuesday with Stanford defeating Virginia Commonwealth 4-0 to claim its 17th team title and 13th in the last 16 years.
BYU's Eline Chiew participated in the NCAA women's tennis singles championships in Malibu, Calif., which started Monday. Chiew was eliminated in the first round by losing to Georgia's Esther Knox 6-3, 6-4. Knox was ranked 10th in the nation at the end of the regular season. Georgia won the women's team title by defeating Stanford 5-4 Sunday.