PIKEVILLE – The University of Pikeville men’s tennis team is ready to return to the national spotlight, and that sentiment was echoed on Tuesday when it was in the coaches’ Preseason Top 25.
The Bears are ranked 18th in the country.
“When Gov. (Paul) Patton asked me my expectations, I told him we want to win the Mid-South Conference and a national championship,” said Coach Tim Alderman. “These guys came a long way to win a national championship for UPIKE and last year they surprised a lot of teams with their talented play.”
The task won’t be an easy one for Alderman and his club; of the 17 teams ahead of it in the poll, three are teams from its own league.
Lindsey Wilson is No. 4 in the country, followed by returning-member Cumberland (Tenn.) at No. 11 and Campbellesville at No. 14.
To make matters worse, Georgetown is one of the ranked teams below the Bears at 22, making the Mid-South Conference one of only two leagues in the country with five teams in the Top 25.
Embry-Riddle (Fla.) is the preseason No. 1, picking up eight of the 11 first-place votes. Longtime power Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) is second with two top nods, while the other goes to No. 3 Vanguard (Calif.). Lindsey Wilson is followed by Concordia (Calif.) to complete the Top 5.
The second five are William Carey (Miss.), Westmont (Calif.), Xavier (La.), Aquinas (Mich.) and Bethany (Kan.).
While Alderman is excited about his team’s chances this season, the coach is equally proud of their efforts off the court.
“Not only are they winners on the court but also in the classroom,” he said, “as 13 players are on Dean’s list and four had a 4.0 grade-point average last semester. We are in it to win it.”