NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass.—Women's Tennis was tabbed to finish eighth in the Little East Conference this season, earning 24 points in the Little East Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, released Monday afternoon.
The Beacons are hoping that their new-look roster can help them get back into the six-team Little East Conference Tournament for the first time since 2011. Senior Samantha Counts (Bridgewater, Mass.) and sophomore Solveig Castelli (Precojo, France) are the lone holdovers from last seasons' squad that finished 3-10 and 1-7 in conference play.
Three-time defending champion Bridgewater State was picked to defend their title for the fourth straight year, with seven first-place votes and 77 total points. Last year's Little East Conference Tournament runner-up UMass Dartmouth finished in second in the poll, earning two first-place votes and 74 total points.
Rhode Island College (51), Plymouth State University (50) and Salem State University (50) made up the middle of the nine-team poll, with just one point separating the third through fifth place teams.
Worcester State University picked up 36 votes to earn a sixth-place projection, while the University of Southern Maine (33), UMass Boston (24) and Western Connecticut State University (10) rounded out the poll.
While the Beacons only return two players from last season's team, they do add a familiar face in senior Anitra Kloczewiak (Newton, Mass.). Klocczewiak holds the program-records for all-time wins (48) and doubles victories (27) and should take over the number one singles role this season after not playing in 2012. The senior from Newton, Massachusetts won 18 matches in 2011 and 2012 and is tied for second all-time in program history with her 21 career singles victories.
Counts played a big part in filling the void at the top of the Beacons' lineup last season, earning nine victories while playing number two singles and number one doubles. Castelli showed immense promise as a freshman, finishing with a team-high three singles victories in conference play and earning seven total victories.
Seventh-year head coach Eric Berg brought in six new faces to round out the 2013 roster, including Nuha Muntasser and Kathleen Conroy. Muntasser was a three-time league All-Star at Braintree High School and should play in one of the top three singles spots, while Conroy has proven to be one of the most consistent players on the team during preseason.
UMass Boston kicks off the season Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. when the travel to take on MCLA. The Beacons will open Little East Conference play when they host Worcester State University Saturday September 14 at 1 p.m.