PAWTUCKET, R.I. – The Worcester State University women's tennis team has been picked to finish fifth in the Little East Conference (LEC) as announced by the conference on Friday (Aug. 26).
Rhode Island College has been voted as the 2016 preseason favorites for the third consecutive season, as chosen by the league's nine head coaches. The Anchorwomen earned 62 points with six first place votes, finishing ahead of the defending LEC Tournament Champions, UMass Dartmouth (55 points). The Anchorwomen finished last season with a perfect 8-0 LEC record, but fell in the LEC Tournament to the eventual champions, UMass Dartmouth 5-4 in the semifinal round.
UMass Dartmouth earned the second spot with 55 points and three first place votes after a successful 2015 campaign in which the Corsairs became the first No. 4-seeded team to win the LEC Tournament Championship and earned the league's NCAA automatic bid. The Corsairs are bringing back five key players, including the 2015 LEC Rookie of the Year.
Bridgewater State finished behind Rhode Island and UMass Dartmouth for third. The Bears collected 48 points after finishing last season with a 7-1 LEC record and 10-6 overall. The Bears welcome new head coach David Purpura this season.
The team that made the biggest jump from last season's poll is UMass Boston. The Beacons finished fourth in the 2016 Preseason Coaches' Poll, after finishing seventh in the 2015 preseason poll. The Beacons qualified for the LEC Tournament, but also fell to the eventual champions in UMass Dartmouth 5-2 in the opening round.
Coming in at the fifth spot is Worcester State with 36 points. Last season the Lancers were under the direction of interim head coach, Courteney Blais, who was promoted to head coach this summer. This season the Lancers' return first-team All-Conference player, Shelby Jankins, along with three other key players. Last season, Blais' squad saw an appearance in the Little East Tournament as she guided her team to a 5-11 overall and 3-5 Little East record.
Wrapping up the 2016 Women's Tennis Preseason Poll are Plymouth State (32), Western Connecticut State (21), Salem State (16) and Southern Maine (10).
The 2016 season begins on September 1 with the LEC conference play consisting of each team meeting each other once during the regular season. The top six teams in the final regular season conference standings will compete in the 2016 LEC Women's Tennis Championship, with the top two seeds receiving first round byes and home court advantage in the semifinals. The Championship match is scheduled for Saturday, October 22, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championship next spring.
2016 Women's Tennis Preseason Poll
- Rhode Island College 6 62
- UMass Dartmouth 3 55
- Bridgewater State 48
- UMass Boston 44
- Worcester State 36
- Plymouth State 32
- Western Connecticut 21
- Salem State 16
- Southern Maine 10