GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – As men’s tennis teams around the league prepare for the spring season, the three-time defending champion Penn State Abington Nittany Lions have reclaimed the top spot in the 2017 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men’s Tennis preseason poll, according to the rankings completed by the conference coaches.
After claiming the NEAC/NAC* West Division championship the past three seasons, Penn State Abington tallied all four allowable first-place votes to secure 16 total points and top the poll. While the Nittany Lions have been picked as the conference frontrunner, this year’s squad will be relying on its newcomers to sustain success after losing four all-conference players. Sophomore J.T. Kling (Warmintser, Pa.) will serve as the Nittany Lions top returners after earning First Team All-Conference honors in third doubles and a second team nod in fifth singles.
Rookies Michael Litz (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) and Tarik Dashields (Wyncote, Pa.) will join sophomore Sean Kimball (Furlong, Pa.) as three newcomers the Nittany Lions will look to for immediate contributions this spring season. Penn State Abington head coach David Sheaffer, who earned his third-straight NEAC Coach of the Year award in 2016, returns for his ninth season to lead his team through a spring slate that includes non-conference matches against Wilkes University and Virginia Wesleyan.
The Penn State Berks Nittany Lions received the remaining first-place vote and three second-place votes to earn 13 points and finish second in the preseason rankings. The Nittany Lions return five players, including four top performers from the 2015-16 squad that finished second in the NAC West division. Junior Will Blyer (Lancaster, Pa.) leads the group after earning First Team All-Conference accolades in No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. Nick Volk (Kempton, Pa.) also returns after an impressive rookie season that culminated in First Team All-Conference honors in No. 5 singles. Second-Team All-Conference selection Ryan Fritz (Ephrata, Pa.) rounds out Penn State Berks’ core group of returners after posting an 11-7 record in singles matches last season. After losing a trio of all-conference players to graduation, newcomers Diego Olazagasti (Exeter, Pa.), Mostafa Rahmy (Cairo, Egypt), and Omar Rahmy (Cairo, Egypt) will look to make an immediate impact in the Nittany Lions’ quest for a divisional title.
After earning the third seed in last season’s tournament, Lancaster Bible College earned eight points to place third in this year’s preseason poll. Junior Evan Holbrook is one of four Third-Team All-Conference players returning from the 2015-16 team looking to make a return trip to the postseason. Holbrook was recognized by the conference after his victory in the second doubles match of the consolation bracket. He will be joined by Chargers’ senior Jared Steiner (Mikado, Mich.) and sophomores Jason Steiner (Mikado, Mich.) and Ming Bowser (Moses Lake, Wash.) on the court this spring.
Bryn Athyn College placed fourth with seven points, while Penn College rounded out the poll in fifth place with six points.
The full men’s tennis preseason rankings can be found below:
|Rank||Institution (First-Place Votes)||Total Points|
|1||Penn State Abington (4)||16|
|2||Penn State Berks (1)||13|
|3||Lancaster Bible College||8|
|4||Bryn Athyn College||7|
The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC men’s tennis coaches, with each coach ranking out all teams but their own using a staggered points system (four points for a first-place vote, three points for second place, etc.). The complete 2016-17 men’s tennis composite schedule is available on the NEAC website here.
The North Eastern Athletic Conference has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University - Abington, Pennsylvania State University - Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse & M Volleyball), Penn State Altoona (M Volleyball) and Rutgers University - Camden (M Golf). The North Eastern Athletic Conference has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of men’s and women’s tennis. For more information, please visit www.neacsports.com.
*Beginning with the 2010 season, the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) in the sport of men’s and women’s tennis. The NEAC will compete as associate members of the NAC in men’s tennis, while the NAC will compete as associate members of the NEAC in women’s tennis. Members from each conference will be divided into an East and West Division for each sport, with each division holding a championship and the two divisional champions then facing off to determine the conference champion. The conference winner for each sport will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships.
A complete breakdown of the NEAC/NAC tennis partnership is as follows:
Men's Tennis: NEAC members Bryn Athyn, Lancaster Bible, Penn College, Penn State Abington and Penn State Berks will play as associate members of the NAC in a West Division. The East Division will consist of NAC members Castleton, Colby-Sawyer, Green Mountain, Johnson State, Lyndon State, MCLA and Thomas.
Women's Tennis: NAC members Castleton, Colby-Sawyer, Green Mountain, Husson, Johnson State, Lyndon State, MCLA and Thomas will play in the NEAC as associate members in the East Division. The West Division will consist of NEAC members Bryn Athyn, College of St. Elizabeth, Lancaster Bible, Penn College, Penn State Abington, Penn State Berks and Wells.
For more information, please visit www.neacsports.com.