Allison Smalling/ERAU Athletics
The Embry-Riddle men’s tennis team has been picked as the favorite to win the 2015 Sun Conference regular season title, the league office announced on Friday. The Eagles earned 49 points and seven first place votes to claim the top spot in the preseason poll, which was voted on by the league’s coaches.
Northwood received 40 points and the final first-place vote to come in second, followed by Warner (34), Webber International (28), SCAD Savannah (28), Southeastern (20), St. Thomas (17) and Ave Maria (8).
The Eagles will be looking for their 11th straight conference regular season crown. They have gone undefeated in conference play in each of the last 10 seasons and have reached the national semifinals in each of those campaigns, including a national runner-up finish in 2014.
Head Coach Dave Paschal returns five letterwinners from last season’s 21-4 squad, including the top-ranked singles player and top doubles team in the nation. Deni Zmak repeated as the ITA/NAIA national singles champion in the fall to top the national singles listing, and the junior partnered with Jaime Sanchez-Canamares Rios to capture the national doubles crown as well as the 2014 ITA Super Bowl title.
The Blue and Gold will open the 2015 campaign at home with a conference match against Ave Maria on Feb. 1. The Eagles, who will move from NAIA to NCAA II in 2016, will play several matches against members of a very competitive Sunshine State Conference, including third-ranked Barry (Feb. 21), seventh-ranked Lynn (March 14) and 14th-ranked Saint Leo (Feb. 26).
Embry-Riddle’s Crotty Tennis Complex will be the site of the 2015 Sun Conference men’s and women’s tennis tournaments. Tournament play takes place April 16-18 and the tournament champions will earn automatic bids to the NAIA National Championships in Mobile, Ala., May 12-16.