Senior Alex Day and junior Luke Gamble earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament this past Wednesday.
Gamble is a former opinion columnist for The Daily Princetonian.
The pair, ranked as high as No. 13 earlier in the season, will compete in the NCAA Doubles Tournament later this month. They are the first Tigers to accomplish this feat since Kyle Kliegerman and John Portlock qualified as seniors in 2001.
While Gamble and Day have partnered for a long time, the pair did not initially aim for a NCAA bid when the season started.
“I was really surprised but also immediately grateful. Until this year, the possibility of going to the NCAA was not even on my radar. Now it is a possibility,” Gamble stated. “We had one really big win in the fall which catapulted our ranking quite a bit. After that I think we both started thinking about it. It only really became part of the public thought process about halfway through the season when we realized it was a real possibility.”
The Princeton duo earned the NCAA bid for being the highest-ranked Ivy League team and being ranked in the top 60 nationally. Indeed, Day and Gamble had their fair share of success this season. The doubles pair is 19-13 this season and 3-1 against other nationally ranked competitors. This season, the two managed to top then top-ranked Julian Cash and Arjun Kadhe of Oklahoma State. They have also bested two No. 9-ranked doubles teams from Rice and UC Santa Barbara, respectively, in dual meets during the season.
Part of this success can be attributed to the strong chemistry between Gamble and Day.
“Alex and I have been playing together for a long time. We actually played in junior tennis several times. We played all of last year together and every match this season until the very end,” Gamble stated. “We are a team that tends to perform well under pressure. I think we both really enjoy playing doubles so we tend to play pretty relaxed and I think both of us just kind of enjoy the opportunity.”
In addition to receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Gamble and Day have also earned All-Ivy League honors. The two won second-team doubles honors, while Day also earned second-team singles recognition.
The Princeton team will compete at the University of Georgia from May 24 to 29. Tournament brackets will be announced later this month.
“I am really looking forward to just being able to play in Athens at the tournament,” said Gamble. “It is kind of a culmination of a lot of hard work and some fun wins. Athens is kind of the Mecca of college tennis. All the greats have played there and it is an honor to be able to compete at the highest level of college tennis.”