Defending Champion Penn State Berks Tops 2019 NEAC Men's Tennis Preseason Poll

Defending Champion Penn State Berks Tops 2019 NEAC Men's Tennis Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – With back-to-back division titles, Penn State Berks in the top-ranked team in the 2019 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Men’s Tennis Preseason Poll.

After consecutive NEAC/NAC* West Division championships, Penn State Berks received four first-place votes and 16 total points to rank No. 1 in the league’s preseason poll. Despite losing several key contributors from last year’s championship team, the Nittany Lions will return with a solid core in an effort to remain on top. Junior Diego Olazagasti (Exeter, Pa.) is the top returner after earning All-Conference First Team honors at No. 2 singles and All-NEAC Second Team accolades at No. 1 doubles last April. NEAC Rookie of the Year Curtis Uhle (Blue Bell, Pa.) will look to continue the success he enjoyed in his first season after earning All-Conference nods in No. 2 doubles and No. 3 singles. Head Coach Sue McDonough prepares for her first season at the helm after previously serving as the Nittany Lions’ assistant coach. Penn State Berks will look to improve its 10-7 overall mark from last season with non-conference matches against Wabash College, Regis College and DeSales University.

Penn State Abington enters the spring season ranked second with 11 points. Two-time NEAC Player of the Year Michael Litz (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.) returns for his junior year after representing the Nittany Lions on the NEAC All-Conference First Team at No. 1 singles and doubles. Junior Ilker Erkut (Philadelphia, Pa.) and sophomore Youssef Omar (Cleveland, Ohio) will also be key players for Penn State Abington after the pair earned spots on the NEAC All-Conference Third Team in 2018. Head Coaches Nigel Hopkinson and Danny Ly return for their second season after seeing the Nittany Lions to a 3-2 record in conference matches last season.

With four returners from a team that lost just one conference match last season, Penn College finishes third in the preseason rankings with 10 points and the final first-place vote. Graduate student Stephen Helminiak (Williamsport, Pa.) is back for the Wildcats after earning All-NEAC First Team honors at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles last spring while junior Blake Whitmire (Shickshinny, Pa.) is expected to play at No. 1 singles this spring. Interim head coach Jessica Bower will get her team ready for conference play with non-conference matches versus Misericordia and Lycoming.

Lancaster Bible ranks fourth with nine points as the Chargers will be looking to climb the conference standings in 2019 with seniors Luke Newberry (Lititz, Pa.) and Ming Bowser (Moses Lake, Wash.) returning as their top two players. The College of Saint Elizabeth completes the poll with four points to finish fifth.

The full 2018-19 men’s tennis preseason rankings can be found below:

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Penn State Berks (4) 16
2. Penn State Abington 11
3. Penn College (1) 10
4. Lancaster Bible 9
5. College of Saint Elizabeth 4

 

 

 

 

 

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 2018-19 NEAC men’s tennis schedule is available on the NEAC website.   

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, Morrisville State, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wells College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (W Lacrosse), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse), Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf), and Wilson College (M Volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sport of men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in the sport of Field Hockey. 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.