The Horizon League released its men's and women's tennis preseason tennis polls Friday. The men were selected first, alongside the defending-champion Green Bay Phoenix, while the women were slotted at ninth.
On the men's side, Valpo and Green Bay split right down the middle with both 46 polling points and four first-place votes. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Cleveland State received 37 points, good for a third-place finish in the poll. Youngstown State garnered 28 polling points to check in at fourth. Detroit (22) and UIC (18) followed suit at fifth and sixth place, respectively. HL-newcomer Northern Kentucky edged out Wright State for seventh place with 14 points, one ahead of the Raiders.
Behind a fertile crop of juniors, Valpo earned its highest preseason ranking since joining the Horizon League. Jeffrey Schorsch (Perrysburg, Ohio/Perrysburg) earned Player of the Year honors in 2015 after amending his school record for single victories in a season (28). Classmate Dave Bacalla (Skokie, Ill./Niles North) was named First Team All-League last spring following a 22-win season in singles play. 2015 also saw Charlie Emhardt (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) team up with Schorsch to go 30-5 in doubles play, the most efficient tandem in a single season in program history. The duo recently earned the nation's #33 ranking as trumpeted by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Kyle Dunn (Fond du Lac, Wis./Fond du Lac) and then-freshman Garrett Gardner (Poland, Ohio/Poland) also achieved 22-win seasons in singles play. Current freshman Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe), who is expected to make waves on the singles circuit, enjoyed an 8-4 record in fall play.
The men open their season next Friday, Jan. 22nd at #5 Illinois. First serve is scheduled for 10 am.
On the women's side, three teams combined for ten first-place votes. Youngstown State snatched eight of those ten, with UIC and Detroit each earning a single vote of confidence. The Penguins, who finally dethroned the Flames in 2014, and have captured back-to-back Horizon League championships, earned 80 polling points, ten ahead of UIC.
Detroit gathered 62 points for third place in the survey. Cleveland State (60) finished right on the Titans' heels in fourth place, while Milwaukee (43) eked out Wright State (41) for fifth place. Northern Kentucky was slotted to finish seventh, just ahead of Oakland. The Crusaders received 16 polling points, six ahead of Green Bay.
The Crusaders enter the spring season under first-year head coach Tammy Cecchini. Valpo welcomes three freshmen into the mix with Meg Modesto (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton), Halle Roach (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville), and Randi Wind (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South). Sophomore Kathleen Hebble (Sellersburg, Ind./Silver Creek) accounted for six of the Brown and Gold's 21 singles victories in fall play. Junior Paige Heuer (Munster, Ind./Munster) also registered a winning record in fall action, amassing a 5-4 mark.
The Valpo women commence spring play Saturday, Jan. 16th at Western Michigan. The match is slated for 5 pm CT.
The 2016 Horizon League Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships will be held April 29th-May 1st in Ann Arbor, Michigan.