Pioneers selected third in SAC preseason poll, four named to All-Conference team

Pioneers selected third in SAC preseason poll, four named to All-Conference team

ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum University women's tennis team was picked third in the South Atlantic Conference preseason coaches poll, released Friday by the league office.

The Pioneers had four players named to the preseason All-Conference team in voting by the league's media relations offices. Juniors Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough were each selected first-team in singles and doubles, and the doubles team of juniors Amber Lackey and Africa Mota was also a first-team choice.

The Pioneers, led by fourth-year head coach Adam Jackson, are coming off a stellar 2018 season that saw the team finish with a 21-3 overall record and a 9-1 mark in conference matches. Tusculum was eliminated by Queens in the SAC Championship semifinals, but returned the favor with a victory over the Royals in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tusculum finished the season ranked 14th in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II team rankings, and had six wins over teams that appeared in the final survey. The 21 victories were one shy of the program single-season record set in 2014.

The McCullough sisters were each named second-team All-SAC last season. Annie McCullough finished the year with a perfect 16-0 record in singles, primarily at flight three, while Caitlin McCullough was 15-2 overall and 9-1 in the conference, mostly at flight four.

Annie McCullough, ranked 35th in the nation and seventh in the Southeast Region in singles by the ITA through the fall, won 10 of her 11 matches in the fall and carries a career dual-match singles record of 37-4 into the spring, including 22 straight wins. Caitlin McCullough is 16-2 at Tusculum and 36-7 for her collegiate career.

In doubles, the Belfast, Northern Ireland natives received first-team All-SAC honors last spring after going 18-5 overall and 8-2 in conference matches. The McCulloughs were 15-4 at flight one for the Pioneers in 2018, and teamed to win the doubles draw championship at the Grizzly Open this past October.

Lackey and Mota teamed up for a 14-4 record last season, winning nine of their 10 SAC matches. The duo played almost exclusively at flight three for the Pioneers, where they went 13-4 as a team. Lackey, from Roswell, Georgia, is 37-12 in her career in doubles while Mota, who hails from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, is 17-5 on the doubles court.

Wingate, which has won or shared the last eight SAC regular-season championships, received six of the 11 first-place votes and collected 106 points to take the top spot in the coaches poll. Queens, which has captured two of the last three SAC Tournament titles, had three first-place votes and 100 points followed by Tusculum with two first-place ballots and 97 points.

Newberry (74 points), Anderson (70), Lincoln Memorial (68) and Lenoir-Rhyne (55) occupy positions four through seven in the rankings, with slots eight through 11 taken by Catawba (50 points), Carson-Newman (43), Coker (30) and Mars Hill (22).

The Pioneers will open their spring schedule on Saturday, Feb. 9 against Virginia-Wise on the newly-refurbished courts at the Nichols Tennis Complex.


2019 SAC Women's Tennis Preseason Poll



Points (1st)



106 (6)



100 (3)



97 (2)








Lincoln Memorial















Mars Hill



2019 SAC Women's Tennis Preseason All-Conference
First Team Doubles
Annie McCullough/Caitlin McCullough, Tusculum
Yana Fleyer / Sasha Davidzenka, Queens 
Amber Lackey / Africa Mota, Tusculum 

Second Team Doubles
Emily Murchland/Sanne Janssen, Lenoir-Rhyne 
Laura Dean /Mirna Curcic, Anderson 
Lucy Whelan/Marta Escanero, Lenoir-Rhyne  

First Team Singles
Michela Verpelli, Wingate
Claudia De Andreis, Wingate
Yana Fleyer, Queens
Annie McCullough, Tusculum
Sasha Davidzenka, Queens
Caitlin McCullough, Tusculum 

Second Team Singles
Laura Dean, Anderson
Elisa Aguirre, Newberry
Chyi Lee, Wingate
Sydney Homan, Wingate
Erisa Onchi, Catawba
Isabel Fornies, Queens
Marta Pinol, Lincoln Memorial