Men’s and Women’s tennis picked third in conference


After reaching The Summit League finals last year, the South Dakota State men’s and women’s tennis teams were picked to finish third, according to a poll conducted by the Summit League’s coaches Wednesday.

The Jackrabbit women claimed one of seven first-place votes for a total of 27 points. Two-time defending champion Denver University was picked to win the league title, tallying six first-place votes and 36 points. University of South Dakota was second with 28 points and IUPUI with 21 points in fourth.

Oral Roberts University was picked fifth with 16 points while the other teams in the lower half of the poll included Omaha (6th, 9 pts.) and Western Illinois University (7th, 6 pts.).

Last year, the Jackrabbits finished 15-8 overall and 5-2 in The Summit League. They lost, 4-0, to Denver in the league finals. SDSU was also the 2014 regular season runner-up.

South Dakota State has won 15 Summit League matches since 2013, the most of any active league member during that three-year span.

All five starters return for the Jackrabbits. Two-time all-league pick senior Iasmin Rosa and 2013 all-league selections Ffion Davies and Florencia Magni return at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles, respectively, while senior Beatriz Souza and sophomore Elif Gabb are back at No. 4 and No. 5.  Both Rosa and Mangni enter the spring season with two-match win streaks.

Senior and 2014 all-league selection Tacy Haws-Lay and freshman Morgan Brower look to break into the lineup. Brower went 4-4 in the fall and teamed with Haws-Lay for a 5-1 doubles record. Brower also played with Mangni and sports a 3-1 record. Brower finished the fall with an 8-2 overall doubles record.

On the men’s side, the Jackrabbits claimed 16 points along with IUPUI. Defending champion Denver was picked to win the league title, tallying five first-place votes and 25 points. Oral Roberts was second with one first-place vote and 19 points. Omaha was picked fifth with nine points and Western Illinois sixth with five points.

Last year, the Jackrabbits finished 14-10 overall and 3-3 in The Summit League. They lost, 4-2, to USD in the championship.

Three of the six starters return for the Jackrabbits. Senior Lovro Curcija is expected to move from No. 4 singles to No. 1, two-time all-league pick senior Henrique Pereira returns at No. 2 and senior Mateus Moreira is back at No. 5.

Looking to fill out the lineup are juniors Jonny Higham, Lucas Pereira and sophomores Stefano Blatt and Marco Paulo Castro and freshmen Emerson Styles, Chuck Tang and Elliot Ward. In three tournaments this fall, Styles finished with a 6-2 singles record while Blatt and Higham enter the spring with three-match winning streaks.

The Jackrabbit men open their spring schedule Jan. 15 with a trip to Minnesota for matches vs. DePaul Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. and vs. the Gophers at 4 p.m. Jan. 16.

The women open their spring schedule Jan. 22-23 with a trip to the Cornhusker State for matches at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. and Nebraska Kearney at 11 a.m. Jan. 23.