Jan. 16, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - If the preseason polls are any indication, a very competitive season is ahead for both men and women's tennis in the Patriot League.
Army, which went 6-0 in the Patriot League in the regular season last year, topped the men's poll with 121 points and nine first-place votes to come in just ahead of Navy with 109 points and five first-place votes and defending champion Lehigh with 103 points and the remaining four first-place votes. Bucknell (76), Boston University (75), Colgate (63), Loyola Maryland (50), Lafayette (35) and Holy Cross (16) completed the poll order.
The Army women have won the last nine Patriot League titles, but they did not claim first place in the preseason poll as new member Boston University took home 120 points and 11 first-place votes to nip the Black Knights with 119 points and the remaining seven first-place nods. The Terriers were perfect against America East competition last year, but were unable to compete in the conference tournament because of their move to the Patriot League. The rest of the women's poll order featured Navy (103), Bucknell (83), Colgate (62), Loyola (59), Lehigh (56), Lafayette (27) and Holy Cross (19).
The preseason polls were voted on by the Patriot League tennis head coaches and sports information directors, who could not vote for their own team.
The 2014 Patriot League Women's Tennis Championship will be held at Bucknell from April 17-20, with the men holding their championship the following weekend at Army from April 24-27. All nine teams will compete in both the men and women's championships.
Two-time Patriot League Men's Tennis Player of the Year Asika Isoh returns to West Point as he looks to become the first student-athlete to earn the honor three times. Isoh was one of six players to earn first-team All-Patriot League status last year, and five of them return to the court in 2014. Senior Luke Gensberg leads the way at Colgate, junior Calvin Mark is back at Navy, junior Ben Gilman returns for Lehigh and Nick Bybel leads Bucknell after earning first-team All-League honors as a freshman. Army sophomores Caison Best and Harrison McCormack earned second-team All-League status as freshmen, while Lehigh senior Mark Goldberg and junior Mitchell Petersen also made last year's second team.
Eleven of the 13 All-Patriot League selections return in women's tennis, including four who made the first team. Army senior Jamila Paul and sophomore Eva Sung, Navy senior Erin Snook and Lehigh senior Jenai Bilmoria all return to the court after earning first-team status last year. The seven second-team honorees who are all back in 2014 include Bucknell senior Elena Vidrascu and sophomore Maria Cioffi, Army sophomore Carolyn Pitman, Colgate senior Kelsey Shea, Lafayette sophomore Caroline Nixon, Lehigh junior Abby Farrell and Navy senior Darien Sears. Boston University sophomore Lauren Davis figures to challenge the top returnees after finishing No. 15 in the ITA Northeast Regional rankings last year, while Loyola senior Tiffany Ash and sophomore Megan Hahn earned All-MAAC honors in singles.
Patriot League teams are starting their spring schedules now, with League contests beginning in March to play a key role in setting the seeds for the championships in April.
Patriot League Men's Tennis Preseason Poll
1. Army - 121 points (9 first-place votes)
2. Navy - 109 (5)
3. Lehigh - 103 (4)
4. Bucknell - 76
5. Boston University - 75
6. Colgate - 63
7. Loyola - 50
8. Lafayette - 35
9. Holy Cross - 16
Patriot League Women's Tennis Preseason Poll
1. Boston U. - 120 (11)
2. Army - 119 (7)
3. Navy - 103
4. Bucknell - 83
5. Colgate - 62
6. Loyola - 59
7. Lehigh - 56
8. Lafayette - 27
9. Holy Cross - 19