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College tennis: Saints tabbed as UMAC favorites

St. Scholastica is favored to win the UMAC men's and women's titles in a preseason poll released Tuesday. The Saints women narrowly edged out the University of Northwestern a year ago to earn the conference's first automatic qualifying bid to the...

St. Scholastica is favored to win the UMAC men's and women's titles in a preseason poll released Tuesday.

The Saints women narrowly edged out the University of Northwestern a year ago to earn the conference's first automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. The UMAC coaches predicted another close finish in 2019 as St. Scholastica earned five first-place votes and Northwestern three.

The reigning champion Saints welcome back Duluth's Elise Hauer along with Elizabeth Fink and Katelyn Rice, who each tallied nine or more singles wins in 2018.

Wisconsin-Superior debuted its women's program with a third-place finish to make the postseason. The Yellowjackets will look to do the same in 2019 after getting picked third in the poll. Allison Tollas and Emily Wald were All-UMAC honorees and will lead the Yellowjackets again this season.

• The Saints, despite losing in the 2018 conference postseason tournament final to Northwestern for their first UMAC loss in 21 years, also topped the men's preseason poll.

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CSS earned seven first-place votes to one for the Eagles.

With the return of several key players, the Saints will look to start a new streak beginning in February. Back-to-back UMAC Player of the Year Serhii Tykhonenko returns to lead the pack following his 14-7 singles season. Sophomores Elliot Schneider and Jack Kearney will join Tykhonenko following All-UMAC rookie seasons.

UWS, which was third in the poll, returns All-UMAC pick Josiah Borst.

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