ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Lincoln Memorial University men’s tennis team was tagged at No.3 in the South Atlantic Conference Tennis Preseason Coaches’ Poll, league officials announced with the preseason tennis release on Thursday. The league office also announced the Preseason All-SAC selections with the Railsplitters’ Marcelo Alvim earning First Team Singles, Alvim and Will Sparks collecting First Team Doubles, and Guilherme Rocha garnering Second Team Singles.
The Railsplitters compiled a 14-6 mark with a 7-2 record in South Atlantic Conference play in 2013, earning the four seed for the Food Lion SAC Championship. After a pair of 5-3 wins over No.5 Newberry and top-seeded Anderson, the Railsplitters advanced to the title match to play 42nd-nationally ranked Wingate. In that match, the ‘Splitters outlasted the Bulldogs 5-4 to claim their second SAC Tournament Championship in four seasons (won the 2010 championship). Lincoln Memorial wrapped up the 2013 campaign at the NCAA Southeast Regional in Savannah, Georgia.
The Wingate Bulldogs claimed the top spot in the preseason coaches’ poll with 107 total points and five first-place votes. Wingate finished tied with the Railsplitters for third in the regular-season standings last season, compiling a 16-11 overall record. The No.2 spot went to the Tusculum Pioneers, who accumulated 99 points and three first-place votes a season removed from sharing the SAC regular-season title with an 8-1 league tally.
The Pioneers split regular-season laurels with the Anderson Trojans, who earned 91 total points to fall to No.4 in the preseason poll. Following Anderson, SAC newcomer Coker racked up the league’s final two first-place votes available to mount 90 points for the No.5 spot. The Cobras posted an 18-5 overall record with a 10-0 league tally in their last hurrah as a member of Conference Carolinas.
Coker is followed by No.6 Newberry, No.7 Queens (also new to the SAC), No.8 Catawba and No.9 Mars Hill. No.10 Carson-Newman, No.11 Brevard and No.12 Lenoir-Rhyne rounded out the bottom half of the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Lady Railsplitters were picked sixth in the SAC women’s poll. After a number of injuries and setbacks caused major instability within the starting rotation, the Lincoln Memorial University women finished sixth in 2013’s final regular-season standings with a 4-5 conference mark.
The Lady Railsplitters locked up a spot in the Food Lion SAC Championship with a 7-2 win over Mars Hill in the regular-season finale, but LMU’s season came to a close in the opening round of that event with a 5-0 loss to three-seeded Anderson. All told, the Lady Railsplitters compiled a 6-10 tally that season.
Defending regular-season champions and back-to-back-to-back SAC Tournament champions Wingate collected eight first-place votes and 116 total points to claim the top spot in league’s preseason poll. The Bulldogs completed a perfect 9-0 season in the conference with a 19-6 record overall in 2013. Tusculum, last year’s regular-season runner-up, finished just behind the Bulldogs, racking up 107 points with four first-place votes to take the No.2 spot. The Pioneers went 8-1 in league play last season.
Anderson — 2013 Food Lion SAC Championship runners-up — was picked to repeat last season’s third-place finish, gathering 98 total points in the poll. Newberry and SAC newcomer Queens were distant fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the poll, earning 81 and 79 points respectively.
Rounding out the poll were No.7 Catawba, No. 8 Carson-Newman, No.9 Mars Hill, No.10 Coker (also new to the SAC), No.11 Brevard and No.12 Lenoir-Rhyne.
LMU’s tennis teams open the 2014 campaign on Feb. 8, making the trek to Williamsburg, Ky., for a non-conference bout against the University of the Cumberlands. Lincoln Memorial kick starts South Atlantic Conference play on March 1, hosting the Tusculum for a noon draw at the LMU Tennis Complex.