Defending Champion Penn State Berks Ranked No. 1 in 2018 NEAC Men's Tennis Preseason Poll

Defending Champion Penn State Berks Ranked No. 1 in 2018 NEAC Men's Tennis Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – After claiming its first divisional title last spring, Penn State Berks has been picked to repeat as the league’s top team in the 2018 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men’s Tennis preseason poll, as voted on by the conference coaches.

After claiming the NEAC/NAC* West Division championship in the 2016-17 season, Penn State Berks received five first-place votes to earn 25 total points and the top spot in the poll. Five returners will provide the foundation for this year’s squad, including the trio of Will Byler (Lancaster, Pa.), Diego Olazagasti (Exeter, Pa.) and Mostafa Rahmy (Cairo, Egypt) that earned NEAC All-Conference First Team honors in 2017. Olazagasti, who is a reigning NEAC Co-Rookie of the Year, is expected to compete at No. 3 singles and doubles where he posted a 12-5 and 11-4 record, respectively, last year. NEAC Coach of the Year Scott Yarnell returns for his sixth season and will lead his team through a schedule that includes non-conference matchups with Otterbein University, Ave Maria University and Regis College.

Penn State Abington finishes second in the preseason rankings with 20 points. The Nittany Lions will enter the spring season with first-year co-coaches Danny Ly and Nigel Hopkinson as they look to bring a divisional title back to Abington. NEAC Player of the Year Michael Litz (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) returns to lead the team after an outstanding rookie season that culminated in NEAC All-Conference First Team accolades at No. 1 singles. Litz will also compete at No. 1 doubles where he posted a 6-6 record and earned a spot on the All-NEAC Second Team last year. Sophomore Andrew Mandujano (Philadelphia, Pa.) is one of the team’s top newcomers and is expected to play at No. 3 singles. Outside of league play, the Nittany Lions have non-conference matches with Randolph-Macon and Virginia Wesleyan.

Earning the final first-place vote, Lancaster Bible College received 20 points to place third in this year’s preseason poll. Evan Holbrook (Rising Sun, Md.) is the lone senior on this year’s Chargers team and is coming off NEAC All-Conference Second Team honors at No. 3 singles in 2017. The Chargers, who are led by first-year head coach Darren Rowles, will look to junior newcomers James Hutchinson (Star Tannery, Va.) and Luke Newberry (Lititz, Pa.) to make an immediate impact. Lancaster Bible will face the likes of Penn State Harrisburg, Eastern and Mount Aloysius in non-conference play as the team makes its push for a spot in the NEAC/NAC West Tournament.

Penn College placed fourth with 12 points, while Bryn Athyn College finished in fifth place with 11 points. The College of Saint Elizabeth rounded out the poll in sixth place with five points.

The full men’s tennis preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Penn State Berks (5) 25
2. Penn State Abington 20
3. Lancaster Bible (1) 17
4. Penn College 12
5.  Bryn Athyn College 11
6. College of Saint Elizabeth 5

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 (five points for a first-place vote, four points for second place, etc.). The complete 2017-18 men’s tennis composite schedule is available on the NEAC website.   

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) 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), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’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 tennis.  The NEAC will compete as associate members of the NAC in men’s tennis and members from each conference will be divided into an East and West Division. Each division will hold a championship and the two divisional champions will meet to determine the conference champion. The conference winner will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Championships.