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Preseason Top 25 Poll

January 31, 2012
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By Jake Knabel, NAIA Communications & Sports Information Intern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Defending national champion Fresno Pacific (Calif.) has been tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 team for the 16th-straight poll with the announcement of the 2012 NAIA Men’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Sunbirds claimed a 5-1 victory over 2012 preseason No. 2 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in last season’s national championship match held in Mobile, Ala., on May 21. Fresno Pacific received all 10 first-place votes for 250 points.

The Sunbirds are led by the third- and fourth-rated singles players in the NAIA, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), in seniors Cledson Carvalho (18-6 in 2011) and Xavier Smith (22-2). The ITA also rates Fresno Pacific’s doubles pair of Carvalho and Nathan Martinet at No. 2.

Embry-Riddle retains its spot right behind the Sunbirds with 241 points. The Eagles boast the top-rated individual in junior Chris Freeman and the highest-ranked doubles team of senior Adrian Bayh and sophomore Patrick Besch. No. 3 Oklahoma Christian followed Embry-Riddle with 226 points, while Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) and Azusa Pacific (Calif.) tied for the No. 4 slot with 224 points each.

No. 16 Bethany (Kan.), who brings back its standout doubles duo of Marcelo Alecio and Kane Olsen, makes the biggest movement up the poll as it jumped eight spots from its final ranking of last season. Meanwhile, the highest-ranked team from the final poll to be excluded from this season’s preseason poll is Union (Ky.), who was previously ranked No. 10. Graceland (Iowa) also experienced a substantial fall, going from 13th to the “receiving votes” category.

A total of five teams are new to the poll after going unranked in the final rating: No. 17 Lee (Tenn.), No. 22 Belhaven (Miss.), No. 23 Campbellsville (Ky.) and a pair of squads who tied at No. 25 in Spring Arbor (Mich.) and Missouri Valley. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) and McKendree (Ill.), now a member of NCAA Division II, join Union and Graceland as teams who fell from the rankings.

Ten of the 13 conferences/independents/unaffiliated groupings are represented in the poll with the Golden State Athletic Conference leading the pack with six ranked members: Fresno Pacific, Azusa Pacific, No. 6 Westmont (Calif.), No. 7 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), No. 8 Vanguard (Calif.) and No. 11 Concordia (Calif.).

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences/independents/unaffiliated groupings. The next poll will be released on Feb. 21.

Notes: (All information as of the 2000 season) Fresno Pacific (Calif.) increased its all-time No. 1 appearances to 16, which trails only Auburn Montgomery’s (Ala.) NAIA-leading 27 No. 1s and Azusa Pacific’s (Calif.) 23 top mentions … Oklahoma City’s 13 No. 1 rankings are fourth most, followed by SCAD Savannah (Ga.) with two … The Sunbirds’ active streak of 16-straight No. 1 rankings is the second all-time behind Auburn Montgomery’s streak of 21-consecutive top ratings, which spanned the 2007 – 2009 seasons … Fresno Pacific has now been the preseason No. 1 for three-straight years and became the sixth preseason top selection to go on to win the national title in 2011 … Auburn Montgomery was the last to accomplish the feat prior to Fresno Pacific, as the Senators did so in 2008.

RANK PVS* SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES) 2011 RECORD TOTAL POINTS
1 1 Fresno Pacific (Calif.) (10) 25-2 250
2 2 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 17-7 241
3 4 Oklahoma Christian NA 226
4 3 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) 25-4 224
4 5 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 16-7 224
6 6 Westmont (Calif.) 13-6 212
7 7 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 16-3 204
8 9 Vanguard (Calif.) 9-14 190
9 8 Xavier (La.) 13-10 189
10 11 Shorter (Ga.) 13-5 176
11 12 Concordia (Calif.) 9-14 172
12 15 William Carey (Miss.) 13-10 156
13 14 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 15-6 154
14 16 Aquinas (Mich.) 25-4 141
15 17 St. Thomas (Fla.) 14-3 134
16 24 Bethany (Kan.) 21-4 125
17 RV Lee (Tenn.) 4-7 113
18 25 Webber International (Fla.) 13-6 108
19 19 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) NA 103
20 22 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 7-4 86
21 21 Tennessee Wesleyan NA 74
22 NR Belhaven (Miss.) 13-3 71
23 RV Campbellsville (Ky.) 14-5 70
24 23 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) NA 48
25 NR Spring Arbor (Mich.) 11-0 44
25 NR Missouri Valley 11-6 44

*Ranking comes from last season's final poll.

Others receiving votes: Northwestern Ohio 42; Biola (Calif.) 35; Northwood (Fla.) 29; Cumberland (Tenn.) 26; McPherson (Kan.) 22; Warner (Fla.) 7; Davenport (Mich.) 7; Oklahoma Baptist 4; Emmanuel (Ga.) 4; Pikeville (Ky.) 4; Graceland (Iowa) 4; Indiana Southeast 3; Hope International (Calif.) 1; Taylor (Ind.) 1; Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) 1.