By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defending national champion Embry-Riddle (Fla.) sits atop the Men’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Eagles received all 13 first-place votes and 343 total points to earn their fifth-straight No. 1 ranking. Last year, Embry-Riddle won its first men’s tennis national title when it defeated Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), 5-4, on May 18.
The Eagles, who ended last season on an 18-match win streak, are looking to build on an impressive fall campaign. Senior Simon Felix and sophomore Deni Zmak, a 2013 First-Team All-American, topped the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) NAIA National Doubles Rankings after compiling a 9-1 record this fall. The duo’s signature victory came in the ITA Indoor National Championships, where the Embry-Riddle tandem downed third-seeded Marcos Giron and Makenzie MacDonald of NCAA Division I UCLA (Calif.), 8-7. The pair’s lone loss was to eventual ITA Indoor National Champions Ashok Narayana and Max Schnur of NCAA Division I Columbia (N.Y.). Zmak also topped the ITA’s NAIA National Singles Rankings after going 11-2 this fall. His only losses came against NCAA Division I competition from Oklahoma and UCLA.
Auburn Montgomery, defending national runner-up, accumulated 331 points to hold the No. 2 ranking. The Warhawks, who have been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in 10-straight polls, has four individuals ranked among the top 15 singles players in the ITA NAIA Singles Rankings and also possesses the No. 2-ranked doubles team behind Embry-Riddle. Key returners for Auburn Montgomery include 2013 First-Team All-American Nicholas Pinones-Haltenhoff and 2013 All-America Honorable Mention Miguel Grifol, who make up the Warhawks No. 2-ranked doubles team. Both are also among the NAIA’s best singles players, earning the No. 4 and No. 14 ITA NAIA National Singles Rankings, respectively.
Vanguard (Calif.) accrued 321 points en route to its 10th-straight No. 3 ranking. The Lions went 24-1 in 2013, falling to Auburn Montgomery, 5-2, in the NAIA Men’s Tennis National Championships semifinals. The team returns two 2013 First-Team All-Americans in Stefan Kilchofer and Roger Muri, who were ranked as the No. 3 and No. 6 NAIA singles players and the No. 4 doubles tandem by ITA.
No. 4 Westmont (Calif.) and No. 5 Georgia Gwinnett round out the top five with 306 and 300 points, respectively. Westmont has been ranked among the top five in nine-straight polls, while Georgia Gwinnett is making its first-ever appearance in the Top 25 in just its second year of intercollegiate competition. Westmont returns two All-Americans in Tim Goranson (First-Team) and Rodrigo Schaefer (Second-Team). Both are ranked among the top 10 in singles and doubles by the ITA. Georgia Gwinnett has two players ranked among the top 15 nationally: Bruno Tiberti and Erik Moberg.
Georgia Gwinnett is the lone newcomer to the Preseason Top 25. Webber International (Fla.) (No. 25) fell out of the poll.
There was very little movement within the poll, with all teams holding their positions or falling minimally. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) suffered the largest drop from No. 19 to No. 22.
Nine of the 13 conferences and unaffiliated groupings are represented in the Preseason Top 25, led by four teams each from the Mid-South Conference and the Southern States Athletic Conference.
The first regular-season Top 25 poll will be released on Feb. 18.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and unaffiliated groupings. For the entire 2014 Men’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
NOTES: (All information as of the 2000 season) Embry-Riddle (Fla.) has claimed the No. 1 ranking eight times, including five-straight… Auburn Montgomery’s 29 top mentions are the most all-time… The Warhawks are followed by former-members Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Fresno Pacific (Calif.) with 23 each, Oklahoma City with 13 and Embry-Riddle with eight… Embry-Riddle is trying to become the seventh preseason No. 1 to go on to win the national title… The feat was last accomplished by Fresno Pacific in 2011… Two teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2013: Auburn Montgomery and Embry-Riddle.
2014 Men's Tennis Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 28)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (13)||343|
|2||2||Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)||331|
|6||6||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||282|
|15||13||William Carey (Miss.)||188|
|20||20||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||126|
|22||19||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||116|
Others Receiving Votes: Webber International (Fla.) 63; Indiana Wesleyan 53; St. Francis (Ill.) 26; Coastal Georgia 17; Missouri Valley 16; Huntington (Ind.) 12; Indiana Tech 12; Asbury (Ky.) 9; Cumberlands (Ky.) 8; Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 6; Cornerstone (Mich.) 3; Marian (Ind.) (3).
^ 2013 Men’s Tennis Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll