Drake Picked as #SummitMTN Preseason Favorite

Drake Picked as #SummitMTN Preseason Favorite

ELMHURST, Ill. – First-year affiliate member Drake is the favorite to claim the 2018 Summit League Men's Tennis Championship according to the preseason poll of league head coaches. The Bulldogs finished ahead of four-time defending champion Denver in the voting.

Drake received five-of-seven first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own team) for a total of 35 points as it enters the league after claiming the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference crown. The remaining two first-place votes went to four-time defending league regular season and tournament champion Denver, which had 32 points. Valparaiso, which won the 2017 Horizon League title and joins as an affiliate member this season, placed third with 22 points. Illinois State, another affiliate member new to the league, and Omaha tied for fourth with 19 points. Oral Roberts and South Dakota State rounded out the poll.

The 2018 dual season begins Jan. 13 with South Dakota State at Nebraska. League play opens Jan. 27 with Denver at Valparaiso. The Summit League Championship is hosted by Denver, April 27-28.

2018 MEN'S TENNIS PRESEASON POLL

Rank

School (1st-place votes)

Pts.

2017 Record

1.

Drake (5)

35

17-12

2.

Denver (2)

32

13-13, 4-0 Summit

3.

Valparaiso

22

23-4

4.

Illinois State

19

8-16

 

Omaha

19

9-14, 2-2

6.

Oral Roberts

14

9-12, 3-1

7.

South Dakota State

5

3-18, 0-4

Note: Coaches may not vote for their own teams


#SummitMTN PLAYERS TO WATCH

Andreas Boers, Illinois State, Sr.

  • Posted a team-best 11-9 singles record and 7-6 doubles mark in 2017

Vinny Gillespie, Drake, Jr.

  • Finished 2017 season ranked No. 90 in singles
  • MVC Player of the Year and five-time Athlete of the Week in 2017

Razvan Grigorescu, Omaha, So.

  • Summit League Newcomer of the Year and All-Summit League selection in 2017
  • Automatic qualifier to the 2017 NCAA Men's Singles Championship

Chad Kissell, Valparaiso, Jr.

  • Posted a 21-12 singles record and 24-5 doubles mark in 2017
  • 2017 All-league performer

Barnabas Koncz, Oral Roberts, Jr.

  • Won seven matches, including two Summit League contests, at No. 1 singles in 2017
  • 2017 All-Summit League selection

Abdoul Ouattara, Omaha, So.

  • Native of Ivory Coast and Seminole State (Fla.) transfer

Mattia Ros, Denver, Fr.

  • Held top-15 ranking in Italy for his age group
  • Won three Italian national tournaments and was ranked No. 2.4 (group two of four top tiers) in national rankings

Emerson Styles, South Dakota State, Jr.

  • Won seven singles matches, including six at the No. 1 position, in 2017

Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches

#SummitMTN PRESEASON NOTES

  • Three affiliate members join the league this season (Drake, Illinois State and Valparaiso)
  • The 2018 league lineup features three teams that won their tournaments last season: Denver (Summit), Drake (Missouri Valley), and Valparaiso (Horizon)
  • Drake's Ben Clark is ranked No. 124 in ITA singles
  • Denver seeks to become the first Summit League team to win five consecutive tournament titles since 2002 (Oral Roberts)
  • With a 12-1 career league singles record, Denver's Wyatt Lovera has the highest active winning percentage at .923 (min. two seasons and 10 decisions)
  • Denver enters the season tied for the second-longest league win streak (20) in history

ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Celebrating its 35th season of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 80 Academic All-Americans, 75 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at www.thesummitleague.org/itsl.

#SummitMTN