RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – On Wednesday, the Great American Conference announced the results of its 2022 GAC women’s tennis preseason coaches’ poll. Harding received four of the six first-place votes to enter the season as the favorite.
In 2021, the Lady Bisons produced a 16-3 record, including 9-0 against GAC opponents, en route to winning their first regular season and tournament titles since 2014. Romane Britt made the All-GAC First Team as a freshman after she went 15-2 in singles competitions and 14-3 in doubles play. Allison Carpenter landed on the Second Team as she won 11 or 12 singles contests and went 8-4 in her doubles matches.
Southeastern Oklahoma State took second in the voting. Last season, the Savage Storm finished second to Harding in the regular season and lost a dramatic 4-3 GAC Championship final. They return just a single 2021 All-GAC honoree in Vanessa Nitu. She tallied 10 singles wins from the No. 2 position.
Arkansas Tech placed third. The Golden Suns’ Lea Grinberg and Aastha Dargude return after claiming the GAC’s Newcomer and Freshman of the Year awards, respectively. Grinberg went 10-6 in singles play, headlined by a 9-4 mark from the No. 2 spot, and 10-5 in doubles contests. Dargude won 14 or 16 singles matches, 12-1 from the No. 3 position. Daniela Baez, a Second Team All-GAC honoree, returns after going 13-3 in her singles matches.
Southern Arkansas came in fourth in the poll. The Muleriders return their three 2021 All-GAC selections in Lena Milosevic, Honoka Yoshimura and Sarah Roy. Milosevic and Yoshimura made the First Team. Milosevic posted a 9-5 singles record while Yoshimura went 10-2 in singles play in her freshman campaign.
Henderson State followed in fifth. At last year’s GAC Championships, the Reddies knocked off Southern Arkansas to earn their first tournament win in four years. Long-time head coach Brenda Joiner retired after 28 years at helm. Mulan Kamoe, who made the All-GAC First Team and Georjemah Row, a Second Team selection, return. Camoe went 6-6 as the Reddies’ No. 1 singles player and paired with Franny Nyarko for a 9-3 record as their top team.
Ouachita rounded out the poll. Austynn Crocker and Clarisa Valenzuela come back after landing on the All-GAC Second Team.
The regular season begins on Friday, February 4 when the Savage Storm faces UT Arlington and Ouachita takes on Christian Brothers. The 2022 GAC Championships take place from Thursday, April 28th through the 30th in Bentonville, Arkansas.