2015 NAIA Women?s Tennis Coaches? Preseason Top 25 Poll ? Jan. 27
By Mike DeVader, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, MO. – After topping off the 2014 season with its first national championship banner, the Grizzlies of Georgia Gwinnett begin their title defense as the top team in the 2015 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The top-ranked squad collected all 12 first-place votes and 312 points en route to the No. 1 ranking.
For Georgia Gwinnett, today marks the fifth all-time top billing in program history, and the first time the school has been at the top of the rankings to begin a season. The closing highlight of last year came on May 17, 2014, as the Grizzlies chalked up a 5-4 victory over Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in the NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship final to take home the crown.
The title run for the top-team was aided by a daunting 2014 schedule that helped the Grizzlies prepare for postseason action. Georgia Gwinnett lost just once to NAIA competition last year – to then-No. 2 Xavier (La.), 5-3, in its unaffiliated grouping tournament championship on April 26, 2014.
This year’s schedule could provide the same kind of experience, as the Grizzlies will play multiple matches against teams that are ranked in either NCAA Division II or NCAA Division III, including NCAA Division II national champion Barry (Fla.) on March 8.
The Grizzlies begin their title defense on Friday against Point (Ga.).
Embry-Riddle, the 2014 national runner-up, enters the season at No. 2 with 296 total points. The Eagles – 18-6 a year ago – look to rebound from losing the title match in 2014. The loss in the national championship final was the school’s first and only defeat to an NAIA competitor all year.
The rest of the top five is the same from the 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll on May 21, 2014, as No. 3 is Xavier (La.) with 291 points, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) is fourth with 283 total points and in at No. 5 is Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) with 279 points.
The Warhawks have been ranked among the top five since April 2, 2003.
The first six schools in the top 10 stood still from the postseason poll, as No. 7 Northwood (Fla.) was the first institution to shift positions. Concordia (Calif.) made the largest climb within the poll, going from a No. 15 to No. 10.
No. 22 Southeastern (Fla.) and No. 25 Cumberland (Tenn.) are the new faces in the poll this week.
Eleven conferences/Association of Independent Institutions/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four programs from The Sun Conference. Four conferences/unaffiliated groups are tied for second with three teams ranked apiece.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions. For the entire 2015 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
The first regular-season Top 25 Poll will be released Feb. 17.
Notes: (All information as of the 2000 season) Georgia Gwinnett earned its fifth all-time No. 1 ranking after winning its first-ever national championship in 2014… Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) leads all NAIA programs with 72 all-time No. 1 rankings… The Warhawks are followed by Brenau (Ga.) with 12, former-member Fresno Pacific (Calif.) with eight and Xavier (La.) with five… 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 among the top five since April 2, 2003… Three teams held the No. 1 ranking in 2014: Auburn Montgomery, Georgia Gwinnett and Xavier.
2015 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 27)
|RANK||LAST WEEK^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Georgia Gwinnett (12)||312|
|4||4||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||283|
|5||5||Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)||279|
|8||7||SCAD Savannah (Ga.)||238|
|17||18||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||140|
|18||19||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||139|
|23||23||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||88|
Others Receiving Votes: St. Thomas (Fla.) 51; Arizona Christian 48; LSU Alexandria 38; Georgetown (Ky.) 38; William Carey (Miss.) 35; Bethel (Kan.) 24; Reinhardt (Ga.) 9; Ashford (Iowa) 6; Cumberlands (Ky.) 3; Aquinas (Mich.) 3.
^ 2014 NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (May 21, 2014)