Pioneers finish season 14th in ITA Division II rankings

Pioneers finish season 14th in ITA Division II rankings

TEMPE, Ariz. --- The Tusculum women's tennis team concluded the 2018 season ranked 14th in Division II in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Top 50 national team rankings, the ITA announced Wednesday.

The sophomore doubles team of Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough also finished the season in the rankings, appearing 32nd in the final survey after helping the Pioneers to a 21-3 overall record and a first-round victory in the NCAA Division II Championship tournament.

The Pioneers' 21 wins were one short of the school single-season record of 22 victories set in 2013-14, and included six wins over teams that appeared in the final rankings: North Georgia (18th), two victories over Queens (27th), Bellarmine (34th), Young Harris (41st) and Newberry (50th).

Tusculum placed second in the South Atlantic Conference with a 9-1 record during the 2018 season, and advanced to the SAC semifinals before being eliminated by eventual champion Queens. The Pioneers gained revenge on the Royals by defeating them 5-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Regional eight days later.

Each of the Pioneers' three losses this season came to teams that finished ranked in the final ITA survey, with SAC regular-season champion Wingate in 14th and NCAA region champion and national semifinalist Columbus State in third, in addition to Queens.

The Pioneers were ranked 21st or better in each of the ITA weekly computer rankings this spring, reaching as high as 13th in the April 4 report. Tusculum played seven matches against teams that were in the ITA rankings at the time of the match, compiling a 4-3 record in those seven contests.

The McCulloughs finished the season with an 18-5 record in dual matches, including an 8-2 record in SAC contests. The duo was 15-4 at number-one doubles for the Pioneers and had a 3-1 mark at number-two doubles, with four of their five losses coming to doubles teams also ranked in the final ITA top 50. The McCulloughs were named first-team All-SAC in doubles, and also earned first-team All-Conference honors in singles.

The ITA will release its final regional rankings next week, which will be selected by members of the ITA committee.