NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – For the second straight year, the VCU women’s tennis team has been predicted to win the Atlantic 10 Championship in a unanimous vote by the league’s 13 head coaches.
The Rams enter the 2014 spring season ranked No. 39 by the International Tennis Association (ITA) and return six letter winners, including 2013 Most Outstanding Performer, Cindy Chala. In addition to Chala, VCU will look to First Team All-Conference selections Yukako Noi, and Second Team selections Olga Barscheuskaya, Salome Kvitashvili and Olga Terteac. After sweeping each of their opponents in the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship, the Rams made their 20th NCAA appearance under Paul Kostin, but fell to Tennessee in the first round. Chala, who ranked 50th preseason for singles, advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Singles Championship.
The Richmond Spiders, who had clinched four consecutive A-10 Championships and nine out of the previous 11 prior to 2013, will rely on the experience of seven returning players. Leading the Spiders are 2013 All-Conference selections Melissa Kandinata, Anna Abadias, and Elizabeth Sims. As a four-seed in the 2013 Championship, Richmond defeated Butler and Charlotte, before falling to eventual champion, VCU.
Rounding out the top three is Massachusetts, a squad that finished 16-6 overall last season, and fell in the A-10 semifinals to Xavier. Senior captain Jessica Podlofsky, who started the year ranked fifth all-time at UMass in singles wins (61), will share leadership roles with fellow senior Yuliana Motyl as the Minutewomen look for their first A-10 title since 2001.
George Washington is picked to finish fourth, followed by Fordham (fifth) and Saint Louis (sixth). Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s are predicted to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, followed Rhode Island (ninth), George Mason (10th), Dayton (11th), St. Bonaventure (12th) and La Salle (13th).
The 2014 Atlantic 10 Women’s Tennis Championship will be held April 24-27 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, the home of the Western & Southern Open.
4. George Washington
6. Saint Louis
8. Saint Joseph’s
9. Rhode Island
10. George Mason
12. St. Bonaventure
13. La Salle