Pioneers move up to 16th in ITA Division II rankings

Pioneers move up to 16th in ITA Division II rankings

TEMPE, Ariz. --- Tusculum University has moved up three positions to 16th in this week's Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II National Team Rankings, through contests of April 7.

The Pioneers extended their winning streak to 10 consecutive matches last week with wins at Mars Hill (7-0) on Wednesday and a 4-3 victory over 11th-ranked Wingate on Saturday, snapping the Bulldogs' 76-match South Atlantic Conference winning streak which spanned seven years.

Junior Annie McCullough moved up to 46th in the singles rankings and entered the doubles rankings at 25th with partner Caitlin McCullough. The doubles team of juniors Africa Mota and Julia Lopez climbed to 20th in the rankings following a pair of wins last week.

Annie McCullough boosted her overall singles record to 22-4 with a pair of wins last week, including a 6-3, 7-6 win over 31st-ranked Michela Verpelli which extended her winning streak to 10 consecutive matches. McCullough is 9-0 at number-one singles in conference matches with eight wins by straight set, and she is 14-3 in dual matches. McCullough's losses this season include three defeats to players currently in the ITA Top 75 and a fourth to a Division I opponent, and she is 3-3 overall against ranked opponents.

In doubles, the McCulloughs earned a national ranking for the first time this season after two victories last week, including defeating Wingate's 24th-ranked team of Verpelli and Alisa Rudenko by a 6-3 score. The Belfast, Northern Ireland natives started the week 8-0 in conference matches and 14-2 in dual matches, with an overall season record of 21-3.

Mota and Lopez also had two victories last week, beating Wingate's 29th-ranked team of Claudia De Andreis and Chyi Lee by a 6-4 score. The duo began this week with a 7-1 record in conference matches and an 11-3 mark in dual matches, and an overall mark of 14-7.

Joining Tusculum in the ITA Top 50 this week from the SAC are Wingate in 15th, Queens in 20th and Lenoir-Rhyne in 45th. Non-conference ranked opponents include Indianapolis in fourth and North Georgia in 11th, who were the only two teams to beat the Pioneers this season.

The Pioneers beat Lincoln Memorial 6-1 on Wednesday to improve to 14-2 overall and 9-0 in the SAC, while clinching the program's first conference championship since 2010. Tusculum, which had finished second to Wingate in each of the previous six seasons, can win its first outright SAC title since 2009 in their final match of the regular season at Catawba on Saturday.