Three singles players, two doubles teams regionally-ranked by ITA

Three singles players, two doubles teams regionally-ranked by ITA

TEMPE, Ariz. --- After advancing to the finals of both the Southeast Region and Division II ITA Cup, Tusculum University seniors Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough are ranked second in the Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II Southeast Region rankings, the ITA announced Wednesday.

The McCulloughs are also ranked in singles, with Annie third and Caitlin 14th in the region. They are joined by senior Julia Lopez who is ranked 16th in singles in the Southeast Region, with Lopez and senior Africa Mota ranked tenth in doubles.

Annie and Caitlin McCullough finished the fall with a 10-3 overall record, including a stellar 5-2 record against other regionally-ranked doubles teams. Included in that mark is a straight-set win over the top-ranked team in the South Central region from St. Mary's (Texas) and wins over the second-ranked teams in both the South (Lynn) and Midwest (Indianapolis) regions, all at the ITA Cup. The McCulloughs also own wins over two other Southeast Region teams, beating third-ranked Columbus State and seventh-ranked Flagler at the ITA Southeast Regional.

The duo's only losses to regionally-ranked opponents came to top-ranked teams, falling to Queens in the Southeast final and Nova Southeastern in the ITA Cup Division II championship. As a team, the Belfast, Northern Ireland natives have a 54-12 record in three seasons together at Tusculum, and were ranked second in the Southeast Region rankings and 14th overall in Division II at the end of the 2019 season after going 26-4 during 2018-19.

In singles, Annie McCullough went 10-3 during the fall to boost her career singles record (dual matches and tournaments) to 91-15. She claimed a pair of wins over number-one ranked players during the ITA Cup, beating Kierstin Hensley of West Virginia State (Atlantic) and Anna Savchenko of Azusa Pacific (West) in straight sets.

McCullough also had three wins against Division I players during fall action, and had two other victories against ranked players at the ITA Southeast Regional. Her three losses came to the two-time ITA Cup champion Berta Bonardi of West Florida in the quarterfinal round, to Southeast Region number-two ranked Eden Schlagenhauf of Flagler in the regional semifinals, and to Madeline Bosnjak of Georgia Gwinnett, who was the top-ranked singles player in the NAIA last season.

Caitlin McCullough had an 8-4 record in singles during the fall season for the Pioneers, with six of her victories coming in straight sets. McCullough advanced to the round of 16 at the ITA Southeast Regional before being eliminated by top-ranked Luise Sachs of Columbus State. McCullough improved her career singles record to 46-19 with her fall performance.

Lopez turned in a 9-2 singles record during the fall for the Pioneers, including a perfect 3-0 record against Division I opponents during the Western Carolina Invitational on Sept. 21 and 22. The Zaragoza, Spain native advanced to the ITA Southeast Region round of 16 before being knocked out by Flagler's Schlagenhauf, following a win over 18th-ranked Kristina Baran of Columbus State in the round of 32.

Lopez has a four-year record of 41-17 in singles, including a 17-6 mark in tournament play, and is 24-13 all-time in doubles at Tusculum. She and Mota teamed up to go 3-2 during the fall season for the Pioneers, which included a trip to the round of 16 at the ITA Southeast Regional. Mota, who hails from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, is 39-20 in her career in doubles and was 16-9 while playing with Lopez last season.

The Pioneers will open the spring part of the 2019-20 schedule on Sunday, Feb. 2 against Indianapolis in a match that will be played in Lexington, Kentucky.