Pioneers climb to 19th nationally; McCullough, Lopez/Mota join rankings

Pioneers climb to 19th nationally; McCullough, Lopez/Mota join rankings

TEMPE, Ariz. --- The Tusculum University women's tennis team has climbed to 19th in the latest Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II National Team Rankings, through the week ending March 31.

The Pioneers defeated 17th-ranked Queens and 44th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne by identical 5-2 scores on the road last week, then capped the week with a 7-0 non-conference win over Bluefield State on Sunday to move up from 37th in last week's rankings. Queens climbed one spot to 16th despite the loss and Lenoir-Rhyne slipped to 48th after falling to the Pioneers. Tusculum was ranked in the top 20 by the ITA for five weeks last season, reaching as high as 13th, before finishing the season ranked 14th nationally in Division II.

In singles, junior Annie McCullough joined the rankings at number 65 this week, while the doubles team of juniors Julia Lopez and Africa Mota made their debut in the national doubles rankings at 33rd.

McCullough ended the week with an 11-2 record in singles and eight straight victories, and has a perfect 7-0 record in South Atlantic Conference matches. Lopez and Mota earned two doubles wins last week to boost their season record to 9-2 as a team and 5-1 in SAC competition.

The Pioneers, who improved to 12-2 overall and 7-0 in the SAC with a 7-0 win over Mars Hill on Wednesday, will host 11th-ranked Wingate in a showdown for first place in the conference on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Nichols Tennis Complex. The Bulldogs are 14-0 overall and tied for first place in the league with the Pioneers at 7-0.