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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 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) narrowly held off last season’s national runner-up Fresno Pacific (Calif.) for the top spot in the 2012 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lady Senators hoisted their seventh national title banner in the last eight years and 11th in school history by defeating Fresno Pacific, 5-3, in the championship match in Mobile, Ala., on May 21. Auburn Montgomery picked up six of the 10 first-place votes and earned 247 total points.

The Lady Senators return four of the nation’s top 16 singles players in the NAIA, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), including top-ranked Ana Veselinovic, winner of the 2011 USTA/ITA Small College Championship. Veselinovic and her partner and fellow NAIA All-American Jade Curtis make up the third-ranked doubles pair on the ITA list.

Fresno Pacific picked up the remaining four first-place votes and earned 245 points. The 2010 national champs were ranked No. 1 in each of last season’s eight polls and fall back to No. 2 for the first time since May 4, 2010. No. 3 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) also drops back one spot after garnering 234 points. No. 4 Oklahoma Christian moves up one position with 223 points, while No. 5 Concordia (Calif.) bumped up two slots with 221 points.

Five squads ranked in last season’s final poll advanced two spots to tie for the largest leaps, including top-ranked Auburn Montgomery. No. 18 SCAD Atlanta (Ga.), unranked in the final poll, makes the biggest splash in the preseason Top 25. SCAD Atlanta returns star Alina Tseplukhova, who is ranked No. 29 among the ITA’s list of top singles players in the NAIA.

No. 25 Marian (Ind.) is the only other new team to the poll. SCAD Atlanta and Marian replaced Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (No. 14) and William Jewell (Mo.) (No. 23) in the ratings.

Seven of the 13 conferences/independents/unaffiliated groupings are represented in the poll with the Southern States Athletic Conference leading all leagues with six Top 25 members: Auburn Montgomery, No. 6 Brenau (Ga.), No. 12 William Carey (Miss.), No. 13 Lee (Tenn.), No. 15 Shorter (Ga.) and Belhaven.

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) Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) pushed its NAIA-leading all-time No. 1 appearances to 58 … Brenau (Ga.) is next closest with 10 No. 1 rankings, followed by Fresno Pacific (Calif.) with eight, Shorter (Ga.) with three and Northwood (Fla.) with two … Auburn Montgomery topped each poll from May 5, 2004, to May 1, 2010, a span of 47-straight No. 1 rankings, which is an NAIA record … The next closest streak is just eight by Fresno Pacific, who garnered the top selection in all eight polls in 2011 … Northwood gained its only two No. 1 rankings in school history in 2003 when it went on to win the national championship … Auburn Montgomery won the next six national titles until Fresno Pacific ended that run in 2010 with a championship of its own.

RANK PVS* SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES) 2011 RECORD TOTAL POINTS
1 3 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (6) 27-5 247
2 1 Fresno Pacific (Calif.) (4) 21-5 245
3 2 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 22-4 234
4 5 Oklahoma Christian 18-3 223
5 7 Concordia (Calif.) 15-8 221
6 8 Brenau (Ga.) 11-8 205
7 4 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 21-5 203
8 9 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) 7-4 193
9 10 Vanguard (Calif.) 10-11 188
10 11 Southern Nazarene (Okla.) 15-6 178
11 6 Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) 20-4 170
12 12 William Carey (Miss.) 15-7 162
13 13 Lee (Tenn.) 10-6 146
14 19 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 14-6 140
15 15 Shorter (Ga.) 11-4 138
16 16 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 6-14 130
17 17 Indiana Wesleyan 24-4 129
18 NR SCAD Atlanta (Ga.) NA 127
19 20 Oklahoma Baptist 9-10 99
20 18 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 11-5 96
21 22 St. Thomas (Fla.) 9-9 88
22 21 Campbellsville (Ky.) 15-7 76
23 25 Belhaven (Miss.) 14-3 74
24 24 Webber International (Fla.) 12-8 68
25 RV Marian (Ind.) 15-7 54

*Ranking comes from last season's final poll

Others receiving votes: Davenport (Mich.) 47; Bethel (Kan.) 23; Missouri Valley 20; Indiana Southeast 17; Taylor (Ind.) 16; Northwestern Ohio 13; Northwood (Fla.) 12; Cumberlands (Ky.) 12; Cumberland (Tenn.) 9; Milligan (Tenn.) 4; Georgetown (Ky.) 1; Xavier (La.) 1; Bethel (Ind.) 1.