GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum men's tennis team has announced its 2017-18 schedule, as released by head coach Adam Jackson.
The Pioneers have a busy fall schedule that will feature four non-conference matches along with several tournaments, before kicking off a 10-match South Atlantic Conference schedule in March.
Tusculum went 12-11 overall last season and finished sixth in the SAC with a 6-5 league record, before being eliminated in the conference tournament quarterfinals by Lincoln Memorial.
The Pioneers make their fall debut on Saturday, Sept. 9 with a trip to face Virginia-Wise. The Pioneers swept the Cavaliers 9-0 at home last fall. Virginia-Wise finished 4-15 overall last season and 1-6 in the Mountain East Conference.
On September 16, the Pioneers will participate in the Lincoln Memorial University Speed Tournament, then will visit Emmanuel on Wednesday, Sept. 20 prior to hosting King in their only home match of the fall on Monday, Sept. 25 at the Nichols Tennis Complex. Emmanuel finished 6-18 overall last season and 2-7 in Conference Carolinas. The Pioneers edged King 5-4 last fall on the road, part of a 7-11 overall record for the Tornado who were 5-5 in Conference Carolinas.
The Pioneers will visit Sumter, South Carolina for the ITA Southeast Regional from September 28 to October 1. In last year's regional, Tashique Kader beat teammate Yago Fernandez in the Flight A consolation finals. After a visit to Montreat for the final non-conference match of the fall on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Tusculum will play in the Grizzly Open in Lawrenceville, Georgia and the Belmont Abbey Duals in Charlotte from October 13-15. The Cavaliers went 10-14 overall and 1-6 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference last season.
The Pioneers make their spring debut with a trip to Belmont Abbey on Saturday, Feb. 10. The Crusaders were 21-13 overall and 9-1 in Conference Carolinas last season, advancing to the tournament championship match before losing to Barton. The first home match of the spring will be on Saturday, Feb. 17 against North Georgia. The Pioneers were swept on the road by the Nighthawks, who won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship and qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament. Tusculum will then face Young Harris at home on Wednesday, Feb. 21, after the Mountain Lions beat the Pioneers 6-3 last season en route to a 10-13 overall record and a 3-7 mark in the Peach Belt Conference.
Tusculum will head to Hilton Head, South Carolina for its annual spring break trip from March 6-9, before opening the conference schedule on Saturday, March 10 at Coker. Tusculum beat Coker 8-1 last season, as the Cobras finished 10th in the SAC at 2-9 and with an overall record of 8-12.
The Pioneers will host consecutive matches on Wednesday, March 14 against Anderson and Saturday, March 17 against Catawba. Tusculum lost 6-3 to Anderson last season, with the Trojans going 18-6 overall and tied for fourth in the conference at 7-4. The Pioneers earned a 5-3 win on the road at Catawba last season against an Indians squad that tied for eighth in the conference at 4-7 and finished 12-12 overall.
Tusculum will visit Lincoln Memorial in a rematch of last year's SAC quarterfinal match on Wednesday, March 21 before heading to Wingate to face the Bulldogs on Saturday, March 24. The Railsplitters were 17-4 overall and finished third in the SAC with a 9-2 league record last year, including a 5-4 regular-season win at Tusculum. The Bulldogs were 10-1 in the conference and 17-5 overall, losing to Queens in the SAC Championship tournament match after sweeping the Pioneers in the regular season.
A stretch of three consecutive home matches begins on Wednesday, March 28 against Mars Hill. The Pioneers beat Mars Hill 8-1 on the road last season, as the Lions finished 3-16 overall and 1-10 in the conference. Tusculum will then host Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday, March 30 against a Bears team that went 11-10 overall and tied for eighth in the SAC, including a 7-2 loss to the Pioneers.
The final home match of the regular season is on Saturday, April 7 against Queens University of Charlotte. The Royals swept the SAC regular season and tournament championships, going 11-0 in the league and beating Wingate 5-3 in the conference tournament finals. Queens had an overall record of 16-2, with their only Division II loss coming to Barton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Royals had an 8-1 win over the Pioneers on their home court last season.
The regular season wraps up as the Pioneers travel to Carson-Newman on Tuesday, April 10 and Newberry on Saturday, April 14. Tusculum defeated Carson-Newman 7-2 at home last season, with the Eagles going 7-10 overall and seventh place in the SAC at 5-6. The Pioneers dropped a tough 5-4 decision at Newberry last season, which gave the Wolves a final conference record of 7-4 for a tie for fourth place and an overall mark of 17-7.
The SAC Men's Tennis Championship gets underway on Monday, April 16 on campus sites, and will culminate at the Cayce Tennis Center in Cayce, South Carolina with semifinals on Friday, April 20 and the finals and Saturday, April 21. The conference tournament winner earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men's Tennis Championship tournament.