by Kevin Buczek
WILSON, N.C.-The Barton College tennis programs and sixth year head coach Tom Schrecengost will be welcoming five other teams to the Barton Tennis Complex for a Conference Carolinas/South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Challenge on Friday and Saturday.
The host Bulldogs along with Mount Olive College and Limestone College will represent Conference Carolinas in the two-day event. Each league school will play three dual matches against the other conference with Catawba College, Brevard College and Carson-Newman University representing the SAC. Complete event schedule is listed below.
The Barton women's tennis team posted its second consecutive 10-10 season last year and returns five of its top-six singles players from a year ago in junior Alicia Lasry (11-7), Meredith Pruden (11-8), Kristy Lievense (9-7), senior Caroline Fischer (8-10) and sophomore Smiljana Kljajic (5-13). The Lady Bulldogs have a deep roster with 11 total players including three freshmen and two transfers. Lasry secured Second Team All-Conference accolades as a sophomore.
The Barton men's team returns all six of its players from a year ago and added two freshmen to a still very young squad that has no seniors. The Bulldogs went 5-13 in 2012-13 with a lineup that featured sophomore Rafael Ruiz (10-7), junior Jorge Pradilla (8-9), junior Max Leppert (7-6), sophomore Daniel Radu (7-9), sophomore Nick Genest (6-10) and sophomore Mihnea Tomos (4-13). Ruiz earned Second Team All-Conference attention as a freshman and Leppert garnered Third Team recognition.
Both Barton squads will be playing their first dual matches of 2013-14. The Bulldogs did compete in the Conference Carolinas Fall Individual Tournament in September and had success. Freshman Jake McCartney won the men's singles B Flight and teamed up with Ruiz to win the doubles A Flight. On the women's side, all seven Lady Bulldogs picked up at least one win.
Barton men's and women's tennis lost to Catawba, 6-3, last season and did not play either Carson-Newman or Brevard.
Mount Olive College
The Mount Olive women's tennis team produced an 11-9 overall record last year and returns six of its seven letter winners for the new season. Junior Francesca Ceppi is coming off a Second Team All-Conference campaign for the Trojans.
The MOC men boasted a 13-6 overall ledger in 2012-13. The squad returns First Team All-Conference honoree Edgar Bub and Third Team selections senior Brahm Moolman and junior Henric Falkenberg.
Last season, the Trojans' men's team defeated Catawba 8-1 and the women's team knocked off the Indians 5-4. Neither Mount Olive team played Carson-Newman or Brevard last year.
Both Trojan teams are 0-0 entering the challenge.
The Limestone women's tennis team finished last season with a 16-8 overall record. The Saints return a pair of 10-plus win singles players in Third Team All-Conference junior Julia Moreira (19-3) and senior Ariel Svantesson (15-7), but they did graduate a First Team All-Conference performer.
The Limestone men's team finished last year ranked ninth in the Southeast Region with a 19-8 overall mark after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. LC will be without the services of 2013 Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Carlos Yanes or First Team All-Conference honoree Rafael Ferla. The Saints do return Third Team selection Antoine Le Dore (18-6) and three other 10-win players in Lucas Guinski (15-7), Benji Lascari Diaz (19-7) and Daniel Lopez (12-13).
On the women's side, Limestone lost a close 5-4 dual match against Catawba and did not play Carson-Newman or Brevard. The men's team did not compete against any of its three opponents this week last year.
Both Saints squads begin play in the challenge at 0-0.
The Catawba women's tennis team has started its season 2-1 with wins against Johnson C. Smith University and Lees-McRae College and a loss Pfeiffer University. The Lady Indians went 15-9 last year and return First Team All-SAC performer Liz Renteria (16-8), who also earned SAC Freshman of the Year honors. Catawba's large lineup of 12 players also features Second Team All-SAC honoree Sloan Kessler (7-16) and 10-win singles players Andrea Bell (14-4), Olivia Myers (14-9), Ally Prior (14-4) and Lauren Sledd (12-11).
Catawba men's tennis has started its season 1-2 with a season-opening victory over Johnson C. Smith before falling to Lees-McRae and Pfeiffer. Freshman Lago Montero Nunez is the only Indian player to win all three of his singles matches this season. The Tribe posted a 12-11 overall mark in 2012-13 with returnees Mitchell McDonald (12-11), Jack Mordey (15-8) and Matthew Nicholson (10-9) all reaching the 10-win plateau.
Catawba is familiar with all three of its opponents this weekend having played them all in 2012-13. On the women's side, the Indians picked up a 6-3 win against Barton and a 5-4 win against Limestone while suffering a 5-4 setback to Mount Olive. On the men's side, Catawba defeated Barton 6-3 and lost 8-1 to Mount Olive but did not play Limestone.
The Brevard women's tennis team went 5-12 overall last year. The Tornado graduated the SAC Co-Player of the Year in Claire Dillman. Brevard does return a 10-win player in senior Second Team All-SAC honoree Michelle Prata (10-7).
The Tornado men are coming off a 2-17 season in 2012-13. Sophomore David Taggart (10-9) is the only returning Brevard player that had a winning singles record last year. George Finch (7-12) had the team's next most wins. Half of the Tornado's eight-man roster is freshmen.
Brevard did not play Barton, Mount Olive or Limestone last season.
Both Brevard teams are 0-0 entering play in the challenge.
The Carson-Newman (1-0) women's tennis team began its season with a 7-2 win at Milligan College last week. The Lady Eagles went 8-12 last year. Senior Stefy Stand is coming off a First Team All-SAC season with a 5-13 record playing at No. 1 singles. Sophomore Brooke Sanderson (11-7) returns a team-most 11 wins.
The Eagles (1-0) men's team also started the fall with a win at Milligan defeating the Buffaloes 6-3. Carson-Newman went 7-12 last season and returns sophomore Juan Sebastian Perez (8-11) who was named Second Team All-SAC after playing No. 1 singles as a rookie. Classmate Jonathan Allen (12-6) returns the team's most singles wins.
C-N did not play Barton, Mount Olive or Limestone last season.
Conference Carolinas/SAC Challenge Schedule
Friday, October 4
9:00 AM: Carson-Newman vs. Barton (Men 3 courts, Women 3 courts)
9:00 AM: Brevard vs. Limestone (Men 3 courts, Women 3 courts)
12:00 PM: Catawba vs. Mount Olive (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)
3:00 PM: Brevard vs. Barton (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)
5:30 PM: Carson-Newman vs. Mount Olive (at Mount Olive)
6:00 PM: Catawba vs. Limestone (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)
Saturday, October 5
9:00 PM: Brevard vs. Mount Olive (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)
12:00 PM: Carson-Newman vs. Limestone (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)
3:00 PM: Barton vs. Catawba (Men 6 courts, Women 6 courts)