Wednesday, 17 January 2024 09:43


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RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – On Tuesday, the Great American Conference announced the results of its 2024 GAC women’s tennis coaches’ poll. Southeastern Oklahoma State received four first-place votes from the league’s head coaches to enter the season as the preseason favorite.

Last season, the Savage Storm claimed the fourth GAC Championship in program history. They knocked off the top two seeds - No. 2 Southern Arkansas, in the semifinal, and top seed Arkansas Tech, in the final - en  route to the title. They return all six players from their championship-winning lineup, headlined by three All-GAC selections. Vanessa Nitu and Sara Gonzalez claimed spots on the First Team while Georgia Hosking landed on the Second Team. Nitu, a unanimous pick, played the majority of the season from the No. 1 singles position and went 6-1 against GAC opponents. Gonzalez played across the top three lines in singles and paired with Hosking to form the Savage Storm’s top doubles tandem. In the final of the GAC Championships, she secured the winning point in the 4-3 affair by defeating Tech’s Aastha Dargude in three sets. Hosking won 10 singles matches a season ago, including her match against Augustana in the NCAA Central Region Championships.

Tech took second in a closely contested vote. The Golden Suns earned a share of the regular-season title for the first time since 2015. Madalena Amil, a 2023 Second Team honoree, returns for senior season. She posted a 12-6 record in singles play and a 12-5 mark in doubles. Aastha Dargude, who went 9-9 from the No. 3 position, and Sofia Beggiatto, with a 9-5 record at No. 5 singles, also return for the Golden Suns.

Harding finished one point behind Arkansas Tech. Grace Dodd, the Lady Bisons’ No. 1 singles player and part of their top doubles team, returns after receiving First-Team acclamation. Karli Roux made the Second Team as a freshman. She won 11 singles and seven doubles matches.

Southern Arkansas took fourth, one point behind the Lady Bisons. The Muleriders shared the regular-season title with Arkansas Tech. Annika Berrendorf, the 2023 GAC Freshman of the Year, returns following a season in which she went 12-6 at No. 3 singles and 9-9 at No. 2 doubles. Greta Wallin, a Second-Team All-GAC performer, made up half of SAU’s top doubles team and produced a 9-7 record in singles play.

Henderson State placed fifth, one point off of SAU’s total. The Reddies reached the semifinals of the GAC Championships for the third time in program history. They return all four of their 2023 All-GAC performers, paced by unanimous Player of the Year Mulan Kamoe and Newcomer of the Year Marianna Murcia. Kamoe went 16-3 in singles play and paired with Kristina Kozlova, a Second-Team pick, to go 15-1 as the Reddies’ top doubles team. Murcia won 10 singles points and added a 12-5 doubles record. Kozlova went 9-8 playing No. 2 singles while Jenna Bohnert, another Second-Team selection compiled a 26-13 record between singles and doubles play.

Ouachita Baptist rounded out the poll. Austynn Crocker claimed a spot on the All-GAC First Team. She won six singles matches from the No. 1 position.

The regular season begins on Wednesday, February 7 when Harding faces Hendrix. Ouachita Baptist starts one day later while Southeastern Oklahoma State, Arkansas Tech, SAU and Henderson State all open on Friday the 9th. The 2024 GAC Championships return to Bentonville, Arkansas with all six teams competing from Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27.



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