Pioneers finish 18th in ITA Division II rankings

Pioneers finish 18th in ITA Division II rankings

TEMPE, Ariz. --- Tusculum University finished the 2018-19 season 18th in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II Women's National Team Rankings, the ITA has announced.

The Pioneers claimed their first South Atlantic Conference regular-season championship since 2010 and their first outright title since 2009 after finishing a perfect 10-0 in league play and 17-4 overall. Tusculum was ranked in the top 20 for the final five weeks of the regular season, reaching as high as 16th, before finishing inside the top 20 for the second straight year. Joining Tusculum in the ITA Top 50 from the SAC were Wingate (12th), Queens (22nd) and Lenoir-Rhyne (33rd).

The Pioneers were 4-4 against teams ranked in the ITA Top 50 at the time of the match, beating Queens, Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate during the regular season and Lenoir-Rhyne in the SAC Championship semifinals. All four of Tusculum's losses came to NCAA Tournament qualifiers, with non-conference defeats to Indianapolis and North Georgia, a loss to Wingate in the SAC Championship match and a 4-3 setback to Flagler in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Junior Annie McCullough, the SAC Player of the Year, finished the season ranked 32nd in Division II in singles and 14th in doubles while playing with her sister, Caitlin.

McCullough's ranking of 32nd was her highest of the season, as she climbed from 65th at the beginning of April to 33rd at the conclusion of the regular season. The Belfast, Northern Ireland native was named the Player to Watch for the Southeast Region after compiling an 18-4 record in dual matches and a 10-0 mark in regular-season conference matches.

McCullough had an overall record of 27-5 during the 2018-19 season, with three losses to ranked opponents. The Tusculum co-Female Athlete of the Year was also named to the Google Cloud NCAA Division II Academic All-District 3 Women's At-Large first team.

In doubles, the McCulloughs were 10-0 in conference matches and 19-3 overall in dual matches for the Pioneers while playing at flight one. The duo had eight wins by 6-0 scores and enjoyed a 16-match winning streak from late February through mid-April. The tandem went 26-4 in all matches during 2018-19, including tournaments.

The final ITA regional rankings for the 2018-19 season will be released next week.