ANDERSON, S.C. – Searching a mark in the win column for the first time this season, Anderson University women’s tennis looks to get back into the South Atlantic Conference title hunt this weekend as it hits the road to conference newcomer Coker on Saturday and closes the weekend with a home match against Tusculum on Sunday.
After AU was projected third by the league’s coaches in the annual Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Trojans have gotten off to a slow start, beginning the year with a 0-3 record, highlighted by a SAC setback to Newberry. After the loss to Newberry, the Black and Gold fell to Peach Belt Conference and in-state foes Lander (5-4) and USC Aiken (7-2). The 0-3 starts marks the program’s slowest start since 2005 when AU began the year 0-5.
Despite the experience on the roster, it has been the youthful side of the roster that has contributed to points. Freshman Rebecca Bruning and sophomore Alexandra Ebner have identical 2-1 singles records, playing the majority of the season at the No. 3 and No. 4 position, respectively. Joining the tandem with two singles wins is junior Karen Ching, who has moved into the No. 1 position after the season-opening loss to Newberry.
Anderson has struggled in the doubles round, posting just two victories in the team’s nine doubles matches. Ching and senior Avery Owens posted the first win with an 8-4 victory over Newberry’s Susana Aguirre and Romina Adum, while Bruning and Lindsay Gregory notched an 8-2 win over Lander’s Marion Courbis and Ivanka Mocic.
After a 20-day layoff between its last matches, Coker returns to the courts this weekend searching for its first victories. The Cobras began the season on Feb. 2 with a trip to Coastal Carolina were they were defeated 7-0, and then traveled back to Hartsville on the same day to face Lander where they were blanked, 9-0.
Before the season, Coker was projected to finish 10th in its first season in the SAC after making the move from Conference Carolinas a season ago. The Cobras failed to place any players on the preseason all-conference teams, joining Lenoir-Rhyne as the only two teams without a representative.
Slated to play at the No. 1 position is sophomore Jessi Campos after closing the 2013 slate with a 9-8 record, splitting her time between No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
The Series vs. Coker
Anderson notched a 9-0 sweep over Coker in AU’s home opener on Feb. 2, 2013. Every Trojan that competed that day posted a straight set victory.
In its opening two matches this season, TC has split to begin the year falling by a 5-4 decision to North Georgia on Feb. 7 and then capturing its first triumph over King, 9-0. Prior to the start of the season, the Pioneers were projected to finish second in the conference, trailing conference favorite Wingate by nine points, but receiving four first-place votes.
With the second-place finish in the annual poll, TC’s doubles tandem of Amanda Sumner and Emily Waters were the lone Pioneers to be honored by the SAC, as they earned a spot on the second-team doubles squad. To begin the 2014 season, the duo is 2-0 on the year, marking the only doubles team on Tusculum’s team with a perfect doubles record.
The bottom of the TC lineup has exceeded expectations as TC’s No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 players were the lone Pioneers to post wins during their 5-4 setback against North Georgia. Kaelee Heffner (No. 4), Adrienne Kaye (No. 5) and Waters (No. 6) continue to impress this season, as the trio carries perfect 3-0 singles records for the young season.
The Series vs. Tusculum
In each of the last two season, Anderson and Tusculum have played to two 5-4 decisions during the regular season. Anderson captured the win in 2012, but was unable to remain perfect against the Pioneers since joining the SAC in 2011, falling in Greeneville on Feb. 23, 2013.