MELBOURNE, FL - The Florida Southern men's tennis has been picked to finish seventh in the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Preseason Men's Tennis Coaches Poll released today by the conference office. The Moccasins received 23 points in the poll. Barry University received 64 total votes, including eight first-place votes, and is the #1 team in the preseason ranking. Barry has been crowned SSC tournament champion in five of the last six seasons.
Coaches gave Barry a 10 vote edge over Lynn for first place in this year's poll. The Fighting Knights received 54 votes and the final first-place vote. Saint Leo University, last year's regular-season runner-up, ranks third after receiving 52 total votes. Rounding out the Top-5 are Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at 41 votes and Rollins College with 39 votes.
Florida Southern heads into the 2018 season under the direction of Greg Van Emburgh who is in his first with the Moccasins, after spending the past two seasons as head tennis coach at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. Prior to IMG, Van Emburgh spent 10 seasons as the head coach at the University of Wisconsin, where he led the Badgers to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearances in 2010. He also helped Wisconsin achieve its highest national ranking in school history, reaching No. 19 in the country.
The Moccasins return just a pair of players who saw significant playing time in 2017. Senior Miguel Alvarez-Hevia, the team's Most Valuable Player last season, topped the team with a 14-6 record, including a 5-2 record in the Sunshine State Conference. For his career, the Asturias, Spain native sports a 26-15 Spring record. Junior Oscar Soderlund returns and brings a 10-6 record a year ago.
Among the newcomers is Victor Ahlbeck, a junior transfer from Campbellsville University where he was 17-4 and an honorable mention NAIA All-American after helping lead his team to the NAIA national semifinals. Also joining the Moccasins as a transfer is junior Alvaro Arias who comes to Florida Southern after two seasons at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Florida Southern will start its 2018 season on Feb. 1 at home against Flagler University at the Wynee Warden Tennis Center.
Lynn will host the 2018 Sunshine State Conference men's and women's tennis championships April 19th - 21st. Winners of each tournament will receive automatic qualification to the 2018 NCAA Division II Championships. First and second rounds for the 2018 NCAA Championships will be played at non-predetermined sites April 28th - May 1st. Men's finals will take place May 9th - 12th, while the women's finals are slated for May 8th - 11th. The finals for both men and women will be held at Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Surprise, Arizona.
Below are the full results of the 2018 SSC preseason coaches' poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their teams (points: 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).
FSC MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SEASON PREVIEW VIDEO
2018 SSC MEN'S TENNIS PRESEASON COACHES POLL
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