KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three-time defending national champion Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) remains atop the NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll in the first regular-season edition, the national office announced Tuesday. The Warhawks received all 13 first-place votes and 343 total points to earn their third-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 82-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. The Warhawks are 1-1 on the young season, with a win over Emmanuel (Ga.) and a loss to NCAA Division II No. 7 West Florida.
Georgia Gwinnett, which earned its first-ever Top 25 mention in the preseason poll, accumulated 321 points to move up to No. 2. The Grizzlies are off to a hot start in their second season of intercollegiate competition, sweeping five-of-six opponents thus far. Through six matches, the Grizzlies are 6-0, with signature wins over then-No. 2 William Carey and then-No. 3 Xavier (La.).
Lindsey Wilson accrued 318 points en route to the No. 3 ranking. The Blue Raiders are 0-2 on the season, with both losses coming against NCAA Division I opponents: Murray State (Ky.) and Eastern Kentucky. Lindsey Wilson currently boasts three singles players ranked among the top 20 by the ITA and two doubles teams listed among the top 10.
Two Georgia-based programs, No. 4 SCAD Savannah and No. 5 Brenau, round out the top five with 308 and 301 points, respectively. The Bees are 0-1 on the season, having lost their season opener to NCAA Division I South Carolina State. SCAD Savannah returns two All-Americans in Theresa Schmaus (First-Team) and Maja Plavsic (Second-Team), who together are one of two Bees’ doubles tandems ranked among the top 20 nationally by the ITA. Schmaus also tops the ITA’s NAIA National Singles Rankings.
There were no newcomers to the Top 25.
Georgia Gwinnett moved up a poll-high 18 positions after its 6-0 start, while defending national runner-up William Carey fell 11 spots, landing at No. 13, after starting the season 1-3. The Crusaders have suffered losses to NCAA Division I Jacksonville State (Ala.), then-No. 3 Xavier and then-No. 20 Georgia Gwinnett.
Eleven of the 13 conferences and unaffiliated groupings are represented in the first regular-season edition, led by four teams each from the Southern States Athletic Conference and The Sun Conference.
The second regular-season Top 25 poll will be released on March 4.
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 71 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’ Top 25 Poll – No. 1 (Feb. 18)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (13)||343|
|3||4||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||318|
|4||5||SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||308|
|10||9||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||241|
|13||2||William Carey (Miss.)||211|
|15||14||SCAD Atlanta (Ga.)||198|
|17||15||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||159|
Others Receiving Votes: Evangel (Mo.) 61; Cumberlands (Ky.) 44; Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 38; St. Thomas (Fla.) 34; Graceland (Iowa) 23; Ashford (Iowa) 22; Nebraska Wesleyan 13; Belhaven (Miss.) 7; Northwestern Ohio 3.