They are, but at the D3 level, there are so few at-large bids. We make nationals because we win our conference. In the past, before the AQ, even when we had a high regional ranking, we were never looked at because of our prior relatively weak conference. It didn't matter that we only lost to Amherst 4-3. Schools in the NESCAC are traditionally very strong, but we beat one of them last year and they still are ranked ahead of us. NESCAC schools have limited dates of competition and most of their losses are to other NESCAC or other traditionally high ranked schools, therefore, none of those losses really ever count against themselves and it was nearly impossible in the east to get a breakthrough in the rankings over those teams. Now, with the AQ, there are less at-large bids, which means a deserving school from that conference won't get in over a conference champion from a weaker conference. However, at the same time it gives so many more schools the opportunity to compete at the national level.
M&W Coach, Drew University. Pro Kennex Ki-5x(R) & Babolat Aeropro Drive GT+(L)
Dunlop Black Widow 17 (62lb) Babolat N.Vy 16 (64lb) USTA 4.5.