ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum men's tennis team has been picked to finish sixth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason coaches poll, as voted upon by the league's 11 head coaches and released Thursday.
The Pioneers were recognized on the preseason All-Conference team as Tomas Kmetko was a first-team choice in singles and Yago Fernandez was a second-team selection in singles. In doubles, Kmetko and Fernandez were honored with a spot on the preseason second team.
Tusculum finished 12-11 overall and 6-5 in the SAC last season, and was eliminated by Lincoln Memorial in the quarterfinal round of the SAC Championship tournament. The Pioneers return eight of their 10 players from last year's squad for third-year head coach Adam Jackson.
Kmetko was named second-team All-Conference in singles last season after he played number-one singles for the Pioneers and finished with a 10-5 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in conference matches. The native of Bratislava, Slovakia saw three of his five losses come to regionally-ranked teams.
Fernandez played most of last season at number-two singles for the Pioneers and compiled an 11-8 record. Fernandez, a native of Aviles, Spain, was named second-team All-Conference after going 7-4 in SAC matches and 4-2 in contests that went to a third set or tiebreaker.
Kmetko and Fernandez teamed up in the fall for the Pioneers and split their two matches. Last season, Fernandez was honorable mention All-SAC after going 13-9 in doubles, playing primarily at flight three, while Kmetko was 9-9 in doubles with most of his competition at flight one.
Defending SAC champion Queens (16-2, 11-0 SAC) received eight first-place votes and captured the top spot in the coaches poll with 108 points, followed by Wingate (17-5, 10-1) with two first-place votes and 101 points and Newberry (17-7, 7-4) in third with one first-place vote and 83 points. Lincoln Memorial (17-4, 9-2) was fourth with 80 points, followed by Anderson (18-6, 7-4) with 78 points and Tusculum with 72 points. Lenoir-Rhyne (11-10, 4-7) took seventh place with 55 points, trailed by Carson-Newman (7-10, 5-6) with 43 points, Catawba (12-12, 4-7) with 41 points, Coker (8-12, 2-9) with 33 points and Mars Hill (3-16, 1-10) with 21 points.
The Pioneers, who went 4-0 in the fall, will open the 2018 portion of their schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 7 against Young Harris at the Nichols Tennis Complex. Conference play will begin Saturday, March 10 with the regular season concluding on Saturday, April 14 at Newberry. The eight-team SAC Tournament will begin at campus sites on April 18 before concluding at the Cayce Tennis Center in Columbia, South Carolina with semifinals and finals on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21.