ROCK HILL, S.C. --- Tusculum University junior Annie McCullough has been named the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year in women's tennis and head coach Adam Jackson earned Coach of the Year honors as the SAC announced its postseason awards on Wednesday.
A total of six Tusculum players received honors from the SAC after the Pioneers completed a perfect 10-0 conference regular-season schedule and won the program's first league title since 2010 and first outright crown since 2009. McCullough and her sister, Caitlin, were each named first-team All-SAC in both singles and doubles for the Pioneers. Earning honorable mention All-SAC honors were Julia Lopez in both singles and doubles, along with Africa Mota, Brittani Brooks and Emilie Hansen in doubles.
Annie McCullough is the first Tusculum women's tennis player to be named SAC Player of the Year since Lesley Murray won the award all four years of her career from 2001 through 2004. The Belfast, Northern Ireland native was honorable mention All-SAC in singles as a freshman and was a second-team All-Conference selection as a sophomore, and repeats as first-team All-SAC in doubles.
McCullough went 10-0 in both singles and doubles in conference matches for the Pioneers, winning nine of her 10 singles matches in straight sets and going 8-0 at flight one. McCullough has a 16-3 overall record in dual matches this season, with two losses to ranked opponents and a third to a Division I player, with 13 consecutive victories through Tuesday. Including tournaments, McCullough's record in singles this season is 25-4 and her career dual-match record is 52-7.
Caitlin McCullough played at flights two and three in singles for the Pioneers and compiled a season record of 8-2 in SAC matches. Her overall dual match record this season of 14-4 includes a 6-1 record at flight two and an 8-3 mark at flight three with a 1-1 record against nationally-ranked opponents. McCullough was a second-team All-SAC selection in singles last year and took first-team all-SAC doubles for the second year.
In doubles, the McCulloughs played together exclusively and went 10-0 in SAC competition, losing a total of 18 games spanning their 10 matches with three wins by 6-0 scores. The duo has won 15 consecutive matches and has a 17-2 record in dual match play this season, while sporting an overall doubles record of 24-3. They are ranked 25th in the most recent ITA Division II national doubles rankings.
Lopez played most of the season at number-four singles for the Pioneers and went 8-1 in SAC competition, with her only loss in a 10-point tiebreaker after Tusculum had clinched the team win at Lenoir-Rhyne on March 29. Lopez had eight straight-set wins, but her most significant victory was a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Wingate on April 6 that gave the Pioneers a 4-3 win and snapped Wingate's 76-match SAC winning streak. The junior from Zaragoza, Spain was 12-4 in dual matches and has an overall singles record of 17-7 this season, with a career dual match record of 22-8.
Lopez and Mota teamed up to play number-two doubles behind the McCulloughs and went 8-2 for the Pioneers this season. The duo has been nationally-ranked the past two weeks by the ITA, reaching 20th in last week's rankings, and they own a 2-1 record this season against ranked opponents. Mota, a junior from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, went 12-4 in dual matches with Lopez and had an overall doubles record of 16-8, while Lopez was 15-8 in all doubles competition. Mota is 30-9 in her doubles career at Tusculum while Lopez had played just one doubles match in her first two seasons with the Pioneers prior to this year.
The team of Brooks and Hansen was 7-2 at flight three for the Pioneers in conference matches, and had an overall season record of 11-4. Brooks, a junior from Allen, Texas, and Hansen, a freshman from Hvidovre, Denmark, have won six consecutive contests together including a 7-5 win against Catawba in the SAC quarterfinals on Tuesday in which the duo rallied from a 5-2 deficit. Brooks has a career doubles record of 37-13 in dual matches for the Pioneers.
Jackson is in his fourth season as Pioneer head coach and has led the team to a 73-17 overall record, including a gaudy 38-4 record in conference competition. Jackson coached the Pioneers to the 2017 SAC Tournament championship and has guided the program to back-to-back NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. During his tenure, Jackson has now coached 10 different players to All-Conference selections in his four years with the Pioneers, along with a conference Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Tusculum will play Lenoir-Rhyne in the SAC Championship tournament semifinals on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Rock Hill Tennis Center. The winner will play either Wingate or Queens in the championship match at noon Friday at Rock Hill, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament to the winner.
Second Team Doubles
Claudia De Andreis / Chyi Lee, Wingate
Gemma Southwick / Diana Babinets, Lenoir-Rhyne
Laura Dean / Mirna Curcic, Anderson
Second Team Singles
Alisa Rudenko, Wingate
Laura Dean, Anderson
Sasha Davidzenka, Queens
Claudia De Andreis, Wingate
Sophie Hirsch, Catawba
Isabel Fornies, Queens
Honorable Mention Singles
Julia Lopez, Tusculum
Viktorija Veselinova, Queens
Chyi Lee, Wingate
Erisa Onchi, Catawba
Julia Loos, Lincoln Memorial
Mirna Curcic, Anderson
Player of the Year: Annie McCullough, Tusculum
Freshman of the Year: Ana Carla Resende, Carson-Newman
Coach of the Year: Adam Jackson, Tusculum