MONTGOMERY, AL - The William Carey University men's and women's tennis teams were picked as preseason favorites to defend their Southern States Athletic Conference championships.
The men's team, which returns 2017 SSAC Player of the Year Vladyslav Ladygin and 2017 SSAC Freshman of the Year Hugo Rouchon, received 61 votes, including six first-place votes, in a poll of SSAC coaches.
Mobile College was tabbed second with 57 votes (one first-place vote) with Middle Georgia State University picked third with 50 votes (one first-place vote).
The top three teams all were extended invitations to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' 2017 Men's Tennis National Championship.
The remaining teams in the men's poll included Loyola (La.) University (39 votes); Martin Methodist College (31 votes); Bethel University (24 votes); Blue Mountain College (15 votes); and Brewton-Parker College (11 votes).
"The conference is very balanced," Carey tennis coach Marc Lux said. "I don't see anyone as the favorite and expect competitive matches throughout the year. We work hard to get better and we are excited for the challenge of the season ahead."
The Carey women, led by returning All-SSAC selections Natalila Baliaeva, secured 61 votes, including six first-place votes. Mobile was second with 55 votes (two first-place), with Middle Georgia third with 51 votes.
Carey and Mobile both took part in the 2017 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship
The remaining teams in the women's poll included Loyola (36 votes); Martin Methodist (36 votes); Bethel (21 votes); Blue Mountain (18 votes); and Brewton-Parker (10 votes).
"We acknowledge being picked first, but I see other teams who currently belong there as well. I expect a lot of close matches. I'm glad we have a couple more weeks before our first match and will use this time to be well-prepared."