NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.—After enjoying their best season in over a decade, men's tennis was picked to finish third in the Little East Conference Preseason Poll with 36 points, the league office announced Friday.
The third-place preseason projection is the highest ever for UMass Boston and their lone first-place pick, is also a program record.
UMass Dartmouth earned the top spot in the poll by grabbing six first-place votes and 48 points overall. Little East Conference runner-up Bridgewater State University finished just ahead of the Beacons with 37 points. The University of Southern Maine and Western Connecticut State University finished in tie for fourth place with 22 points apiece, while Salem State University (21) and Rhode Island College (11) rounded out the poll.
Last season, UMB finished fifth in the conference with an 8-6 record, before falling in the first round of the LEC Tournament to fourth-seeded University of Southern Maine. The Beacons eight wins are tied for the fifth-most victories in program history.
Head Coach Eric Berg brings back five returners from last season's squad, including LEC Rookie of the Year David Hernandez (Bogota, Colombia). Hernandez finished with 10 wins in both singles and doubles as a freshman, while playing at number one in both sections.
Joining Hernandez will be his doubles partner Charles Lai (Boston, Mass.). The pair combined to earn All-Conference Second Team honors at number one doubles, by going 4-2 in the LEC. Lai also picked up LEC First Team honors for his play at number three singles.
The top doubles pair is joined by Alex Loyer (Chelmsford, Mass.), Lyle Analetto (Belmont, Mass.) and Seth Shavers (Boston, Mass.). The trio of returners all earned at least four victories in singles play, with Loyer and Shavers combined for a 7-7 record at number two doubles.
In addition to the returners, the Beacons will feature four new faces led by senior Sean Cullen (Medway, Mass.) and Egliz Bizhoti (Dorchester, Mass.). Cullen earned a 6-0, 6-2 victory in number one singles in the Beacons lone fall match of the season, while Bizhoti cruised through his number five singles match.
UMass Boston will begin the season Monday March 18 when they take on Nichols College at 11:30 A.M. in Orlando, Florida. The Beacons will play three more games in Florida, before heading back to Massachusetts for a pair of road contests.
The Beacons will finally play their home opener April 4 when they host Suffolk University at 3:00 p.m.