TEMPE, Ariz. --- The Tusculum men's tennis team concluded the 2018 season ranked 26th in the final Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Rankings, the ITA announced this week.
The Pioneers claimed their highest-ever final national ranking by the ITA, and are appearing in the final survey for the first time since ending the 2014-15 season ranked 48th. Tusculum finished the season with a 15-8 overall record and sixth in the South Atlantic Conference with a 5-5 conference record. The Pioneers defeated Lincoln Memorial in the SAC quarterfinals before being eliminated by eventual conference champion Wingate in the semifinal round.
Tusculum played five NCAA Division II Men's Tennis Championship participants during the season (Wingate, Queens, Bluefield State, Chowan, Palm Beach Atlantic), and nearly half of the Pioneers' 23 matches were against opponents that finished in the ITA Top 50. Tusculum was one of six SAC teams in the final rankings (Wingate 6th, Queens 14th, Newberry 21st, Tusculum 26th, Anderson 28th, Lincoln Memorial 31st), with non-conference matches against Bluefield State (19th), Palm Beach Atlantic (20th), Young Harris (24th) and Chowan (42nd).
Overall, Tusculum was 4-7 against teams in the final ITA rankings, including two wins over Lincoln Memorial and victories against Young Harris and Chowan. Three of the Pioneers' seven losses came by 5-4 scores, as Tusculum went 4-4 in matches decided by a single team point. Tusculum was ranked in each of the eight weekly ITA computer-generated polls, reaching as high as 25th in the surveys of April 25 and May 2 after debuting at 42nd in the initial weekly rankings on March 21.
NCAA Division II national champion Columbus State finished atop the final ITA rankings after defeating Barry 5-4 in the finals. Saint Leo, Lander and Lynn rounded out the top five. The ITA will release its final regional rankings next week, which will be selected by members of the ITA committee.