Thomasville, NC--The Anderson University men's tennis team has been voted the preseason top team in Conference Carolinas by league head coaches. Since joining the league in 1999, the Trojans are 83-5 in league play and have lost just two league matches in the last six years. In those six years they have also collected five out of six conference tournament championships and five out of six regular season championships while winning both titles for the second straight year.
With a young team last spring, the Trojans were 17-8 overall and 9-0 in the conference. "This year, I believe we're more mature," states head coach Rodrigo da Silva. "This is by far the strongest team I've had." While Anderson is ranked No. 21 in the ITA DII Preseason National Poll, da Silva looks to make his team tougher by putting together one of the toughest schedules in the country this spring. Anderson will play three of the top four and 10 of the top 20 in the ITA Division II preseason poll. "If we're going to get better, we have to play the best," da Silva said. "The last couple of years we've played so many matches against tough teams and lost 5-4, 6-3. I felt like we weren't tough enough. The only way to get tougher is to play tough teams more often. We'll see how it goes. The schedule will make us or break us."
Two new players from Hamburg, Germany - Philip Pakebusch and Jan Shiebler - both recorded impressive victories in the fall and will make the Trojans much deeper. Pakebusch is ranked No. 29 in the ITA Division II preseason poll. "I hope they make a huge impact," da Silva said. "We lost just one player and he played No. 6. On paper, we're pretty tough. Hopefully, it pans out."
The Limestone College men's tennis team takes the second spot in this year's preseason poll. The Saints team wrapped up the 2006-07 season with the highest conference finish in program history with an 8-1 league record and 18-13 overall record, finishing just behind Anderson in the regular season.
The Saints also had a successful fall season, competing at the ITA Regional and the Conference Carolinas Individual Tournament. The Saints are ranked in the ITA DII Preseason National Poll coming in at No. 33.
Under the direction of first year head coach Keith Turner, Limestone returns last year's conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference honoree, Philippe Hogan. Along with Hogan, All-Conference honoree Christian Munn will return, accompanied by four other returnees and four newcomers.
Mount Olive College is ranked No. 40 in the ITA Division II Men's Tennis Preseason Poll and returns its entire starting lineup including last year's conference Player of the Year Guillherme Serra. Serra and fellow senior Vitor Lage are the top-ranked doubles team in the conference and ranked No. 7 in the NCAA II Mid-Atlantic Region. Lage earned All-Conference second team honors last year. Serra is a three-time All-Conference selection, including first team honors last year.
Mount Olive finished fourth in last year's regular season standings and third in the conference tournament with a 13-13 overall and 6-3 league record. All of the Trojans' losses in the last three years have come against Division I opponents or nationally ranked Division II opponents.
Rounding out the men's tennis preseason poll 4-11 is: Lees-McRae, Barton, Erskine, Queens, Coker, Pfeiffer and St. Andrews respectively.
Conference Carolinas Pre-Season Coaches Poll (1st place votes in parenthesis)
1. Anderson University (9)81
2. Limestone College 71
3. Mount Olive College (1)66
4. Lees-McRae College 52
5. Barton College 47
6. Erskine College 38
7. Queens University of Charlotte 31
8. Coker College 29
9. Pfeiffer University 26
10. St. Andrews Presbyterian College 9