KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three-time defending national champion Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) tops the NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Warhawks received all 13 first-place votes and 343 total points to earn their second-straight No. 1 ranking. Last year, Auburn Montgomery won its 14th national title—and ninth in the past 10 years—when it defeated William Carey (Miss.), 5-1, on May 18.
The Warhawks, who have been ranked among the top five in 81-straight polls dating back to April 2, 2003, will rely on the senior leadership of First-Team All-American Jade Curtis and Chanel Cunningham, the key returners from last year’s National Championship squad. Beyond Curtis and Cunningham—who rank as the No. 2 and No. 22 singles players and the No. 8 doubles tandem in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) NAIA National Rankings—Auburn Montgomery will play a quintet of underclassmen, including four freshmen.
William Carey, defending national runner-up, accumulated 331 points to hold the No. 2 position. The Crusaders lost their top four players from last year’s squad, including two All-Americans and two All-America Honorable Mentions, but will look to maintain their success with three returners and a group of six incoming freshmen.
Xavier (La.) accrued 318 points en route to the No. 3 ranking. The Gold Nuggets reached their first-ever NAIA National Championships semifinal in 2013, where they fell to eventual runner-up William Carey, 5-0. Xavier returns two All-Americans in Kourtney Howell (First-Team) and Brion Flowers (Second-Team).
No. 4 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and No. 5 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) round out the top five with 312 and 300 points, respectively. The Blue Raiders return Second-Team All-American Alejandra Galvis from last year’s National Championships semifinal team. Lindsey Wilson boasts three singles players ranked among the top 20 nationally by the ITA, as well as two doubles tandems listed among the top 10.
The Bees return two All-Americans in Theresa Schmaus (First-Team) and Maja Plavsic (Second-Team) from their national quarterfinal squad that went 13-3 last season. Schmaus tops the ITA’s NAIA National Singles Rankings and also pairs with Plavsic for the No. 16 doubles spot. Sophomore Maria Barragan and junior Daniella Arcila are the Bees top doubles pair, earning the No. 5 position nationally.
No. 20 Georgia Gwinnett is the lone newcomer to the Preseason Top 25. This is the first Top 25 nod for the Grizzlies, who are entering their second season of intercollegiate competition. Nebraska Wesleyan (No. 24) fell out of the poll.
Within the poll, No. 4 Lindsey Wilson and No. 10 Vanguard (Calif.) made the largest jumps, each moving up two positions. Westmont (Calif.) fell two spots, landing at No. 12.
Eleven of the 13 conferences and unaffiliated groupings are represented in the Preseason Top 25, led by four teams each from the Southern States Athletic Conference and The Sun 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 Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
NOTES: (All information as of the 2000 season) Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) leads all NAIA programs with 70 all-time No. 1 rankings… The Warhawks are followed by Brenau (Ga.) with 12, former-member Fresno Pacific (Calif.) with eight, and former-member Shorter (Ga.) and Xavier (La.) with three… Auburn Montgomery topped each poll from Feb. 11, 2004, to May 1, 2010, a span of 47-straight No. 1 rankings, an NAIA record… The next closest streak is just eight by Fresno Pacific, which garnered the top selection in all eight polls in 2011… Auburn Montgomery has been ranked in the top five since April 2, 2003… Four teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2013: Auburn Montgomery, Brenau, William Carey (Miss.) and Xavier.
2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 28)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (13)||343|
|2||2||William Carey (Miss.)||331|
|4||6||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||312|
|5||5||SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||300|
|9||9||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||252|
|14||15||SCAD Atlanta (Ga.)||198|
|15||14||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||169|
Others Receiving Votes: Evangel (Mo.) 54; Nebraska Wesleyan 44; Cumberlands (Ky.) 42; St. Thomas (Fla.) 33; Ashford (Iowa) 30; Graceland (Iowa) 23; Belhaven (Miss.) 20; Robert Morris (Ill.) 20; Northwestern Ohio 5; Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 5.
^ 2013 Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll