Funke named region's Most Improved Senior by ITA

Funke named region's Most Improved Senior by ITA

TEMPE, Ariz. --- Tusculum senior Franziska Funke has been honored by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as the women's Most Improved Senior in the Southeast Region of NCAA Division II, the ITA announced Wednesday.

Funke is the second Pioneer in the last three years to receive the Most Improved Senior award, following Kealee Heffner who earned the honor following the 2016 season.

The Bochum, Germany native was named first-team All-South Atlantic Conference in singles for the third time in her career after compiling a 15-4 record during the 2017-18 season, and will graduate as the program's career leader in singles victories with 69. Funke played primarily at number-two singles for the Pioneers, where she went 12-4 overall, and had an 8-2 record in SAC singles matches during the 2018 season.

Funke was nationally-ranked in singles for most of the 2018 season, reaching as high as 31st in the Oracle/ITA Division II national singles rankings. Funke won 12 of her 15 singles matches in straight sets, and had a perfect 3-0 record in matches that went to three sets or a tiebreaker. She won the A draw singles title at the Grizzly Open at Georgia Gwinnett College in the fall by winning four matches.

Funke won at least 14 singles matches in each of her four seasons for the Pioneers, including a stellar 22-1 record as a sophomore. She compiled a 45-9 career singles record at the number-two position in the lineup, and also earned seven wins in 10 career contests at the top of the singles lineup.

In doubles, Funke teamed with Katarina Majorova for an 18-3 record this season, including a 15-2 mark at the number-two position in the Tusculum lineup. Funke and Majorova had a 9-1 record in conference doubles matches and were named first-team All-SAC for the second straight year as a duo.

A three-time first-team All-SAC doubles selection in her career, Funke finished with a career record of 74-18 in doubles for the Pioneers, including an 18-1 mark as a freshman and 21 victories as a junior. She had a 28-3 record at number-two doubles for the Pioneers, and a 42-13 mark at number-one doubles.

Tusculum finished with an overall record of 21-3 and in second place in the South Atlantic Conference with a 9-1 league record. The Pioneers advanced to the SAC semifinal round and were selected to participate in the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championship for the second straight year and 10th time in program history. Tusculum defeated Queens 5-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Regional before being eliminated by top-seeded Columbus State in round two.