FOREST, Va. --- The 2019 ODAC Women's Tennis Preseason Poll has a familiar logo perched at the top, but there is plenty of movement throughout the rest of the listing in the annual survey of the league's head coaches. Washington and Lee University, winners of 16 straight ODAC titles, stands atop the chart after receiving 12 first place votes on the way to 144 total points. Randolph-Macon College moved up a spot from last season's poll to rank second with 132 markers including the final top nod.
There is a clear separation in the poll results with just 12 points between third position from seventh before a drop-off to the eighth spot. The University of Lynchburg (107 points) climbs three spots to third compared its position a season ago, while Virginia Wesleyan University (101) jumps four places into fourth. Roanoke College (100) maintain its fifth ranking just one slot behind the Marlins, while Randolph College (97) dropped two rungs to sixth. Bridgewater College (95) caps the group at 95 points or better in seventh position.
Last season's ODAC Tournament saw Washington and Lee sweep thru three contests on the way to lifting its 28th women's tennis trophy. The Generals' championship opponent, however, was from an unlikely source based on tournament seeding. Virginia Wesleyan entered the eight-team field as the seventh seed, which proved inconsequential as the Marlins opened with a 5-1 road win at #2 Randolph-Macon before returning home as the host site for the semifinals and finals. The Marlins churned out a 5-4 result over #3 Lynchburg in the semifinals to reach the ODAC title match for the first time since 2009.
RELATED: ODAC Tournament Bracket
Washington and Lee continued its season in the NCAA team tournament and opened with first and second round action at Mary Washington. The then 15th-ranked Generals took down Franciscan, 5-0, in the first round, but dropped a 5-4 second round decision to 19th-ranked UMW.
RELATED: NCAA Championship Bracket
Entering the 2019 spring season, Washington and Lee is the lone ranked ODAC squad in the ITA's regional and national polls. The Generals are ranked fifth in the Atlantic South Region behind Emory, Carnegie Mellon, Sewanee, and Mary Washington, sequentially. W&L is slotted 18th of 40 nationally-ranked programs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps heads that chart.
When it comes to singles and doubles rankings, one athlete from league schools appears in the rankings. Lynchburg's Christina Harris is ranked 32nd in a listing of the top-50 singles players in the country. In the fall season, Harris won three matches as the 13th-seeded player in the Southeast Regional hosted by Mary Washington. Those three wins pushed her career singles victories total to 49, making her the all-time leader in program history.
RELATED: ITA National Team and Individual Rankings Hub
ODAC rosters feature an eye-opening amount of returning talent when looking at last season's All-ODAC lists. Returning athletes account for 26 of the 31 all-league honors handed out in 2018. Washington and Lee and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year Erin Ness feature two of those athletes. Valerie Marshall earned a second team spot at #1 singles in addition to being tabbed the ODAC Rookie of the Year. Mary Hampton McNeal is also back in Lexington after a second team selection at #3 singles. Marshall and McNeal, along with promising newcomers like Taylor Garcia and Georgia Wright, will need to help make-up for the loss to 2018 ODAC Player of the Year and All-American Michelle Fleenor.
Randolph-Macon and Virginia Wesleyan boast the most returning honors in the league. R-MC features two first team doubles tandems in #1 doubles pairing Kristin Dantzler and Gaby Tersigni as well as #2 doubles set Olivia Uzer and Stephanie Yeager. Landon Aud makes it five honorees following her second team choice at #5 singles. The Marlins welcome back first team #6 singles player Kristina Sabelstrom, who also paired with fellow returner Taylor Witherspoon as the second team #3 doubles pairing. Additionally, VWU welcomes back second team #1 doubles partners Audrey Bally and Makayla Velic.
Lynchburg's returning set is led by Harris, who in addition to earning All-ODAC First Team honors at #1 singles picked up second team #1 doubles laurels with returning partner Sarah Wyly. The Hornets also boast the return of second team #4 singles player Lilli Altenburg.
Bridgewater, Randolph, and Roanoke also feature multiple returning All-ODAC players. The Eagles welcome back first team #2 singles player Whitney Kiser as well as second team #2 doubles pairing Stephanie Barton and Nicole Shifflett. Randolph's group is led by Keyu Jin, who was one part of the first team #1 doubles set (with Aubrey Hawn) in addition to earning second team honors at #1 singles. The WildCats also welcome back second team #2 singles honoree Ashley Schmitz. Roanoke features three returning standouts, all from the first team. Madeline Herring and Carolyn Kitsock garnered recognition at #4 and #5 singles, while Kitsock joined Janny Alvarado as the first team #3 doubles squad.
ODAC newcomer Ferrum College enters its first conference season with a returning All-USA South honoree. Morgan Scott was a second team choice in the USA South East Division.
RELATED: 2018 All-ODAC Women's Tennis Awards
The 2019 spring season begins with conference and non-conference play on Friday, February 15. The ODAC Tournament is slated to begin Wednesday, May 1, with quarterfinal action at the four highest seeds. The semifinals and finals will be hosted at Virginia Wesleyan University on Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5.
Listed below is the complete 2019 ODAC Women's Tennis Preseason Poll. For more information on ODAC women's tennis, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.
|2019 ODAC WOMEN'S TENNIS PRESEASON POLL|
|(#) Denotes First Place Votes|
|1. Washington and Lee University (12)||144 pts.|
|2. Randolph-Macon College (1)||132 pts.|
|3. University of Lynchburg||107 pts.|
|4. Virginia Wesleyan University||101 pts.|
|5. Roanoke College||100 pts.|
|6. Randolph College||97 pts.|
|7. Bridgewater College||95 pts.|
|8. Sweet Briar College||62 pts.|
|9. Emory & Henry College||50 pts.|
|10. Hollins University||45 pts.|
|11. Shenandoah University||37 pts.|
|12. Ferrum College||36 pts.|
|13. Guilford College||17 pts.|