Women's Tennis Readies for 2014 Campaign

ANDERSON, S.C. –  Highlighted by a rematch of last season’s South Atlantic Conference championship on the road at Wingate, Anderson University women’s tennis head coach Joey Eskridge has announced his 2014 schedule, beginning with the home conference opener against Newberry on Feb. 8.

The Trojans open the season with higher expectations, as they seek to replace half of their starting singles lineup from their conference runner-up season. Senior Avery Owens, who captured one of AU’s two singles victories in last season’s championship match, returns to a well-experienced roster.

Anderson gets its season underway with a SAC matchup with Newberry on Feb. 8, a team the Trojans narrowly defeated 5-4 in last year’s meeting. Owens and junior Lindsay Gregory each notched wins en route to the comeback win.

Following the season opener, AU hits the road for three straight matches, beginning with a trip to GRU-Augusta, formerly known as Augusta State, on Feb. 12. Next, AU jumps back into SAC play with a matchup at Catawba on Feb. 15, as the Trojans swept the Indians in last season’s match. The Trojans close the road trip with a non-conference showdown at Lander on Feb. 17.

After a home match with USC Aiken on Feb. 19, the Black and Gold travel to Coker on Feb. 22 for its first match against the Cobras as conference opponents. As non-conference foes a year ago, AU bested Coker 9-0 in last season’s season opener.

The Trojans head back home for three straight home conference matches, starting with Tusculum on Feb. 23. AU split with the Pioneers in 2013, falling to TC in regular season, 5-4, but later upsetting Tusculum in the conference semifinals, 5-2.

Opening up the month of March, Anderson welcomes Mars Hill on March 1 and Lincoln Memorial on March 3. Last season, Eskridge’s team notched matching 8-1 victories over MHU and LMU, followed by a 5-0 win over the Lady Railsplitters in the conference quarterfinals.

Anderson’s rematch with the defending champion Bulldogs is set for March 6 at the WU Tennis Facility. After falling to Wingate 7-2 during the regular season, the Trojans were unable to pull off an upset and knock off the regular season champions in the conference finals, losing 5-3. For the Bulldogs, the championship was their third straight.

After the road trip to Wingate, AU heads back to the Upstate for three straight home contests, as Columbus State (March 7) and Converse (March 8) begin the stretch. After spring break, the Trojans continue the home stand with SAC member Brevard on March 20.

AU faces one its challenging road stretches of the season, beginning on March 25 when the Trojans head to SAC newcomer Queens, followed by a trip to archrival Erskine on March 31. In last year’s battle with the Flying Fleet, AU came just short of earning the Beville Cup point, falling 5-4. Karen Ching captured two wins against Erskine as she and Owens took an 8-6 doubles win. Anderson eventually ends the road stretch with a trip to Lenoir-Rhyne on April 1.

“We’re looking forward to the Queens match,” Eskridge said. “We haven’t beaten them during the regular season and when we were in Conference Carolinas, they got us pretty good, so we’re hoping to get up for that match.”

Anderson closes its conference schedule on April 11, as it hosts Carson-Newman, and then eventually wraps up the regular season the following day at Belmont Abbey.

“This going to be one of the toughest schedules we’ve ever had,” Eskridge said. “The conference has gotten so much stronger with Queens and Coker coming in so we will have to get prepared quickly.”

The 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament is slated for April 18-20 at the Rock Hill Tennis Center in Rock Hill, S.C.

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