WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's tennis team was picked seventh in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced Wednesday by league officials. The annual poll is voted on by the GNAC's eight head women's tennis coaches. The Blue Jays open with back-to-back home matches against the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMD) at 4:00 p.m., on September 3 and 5, respectively. All home matches will be played at neighboring Hall High School in West Hartford as USJ's brand new tennis courts near completion and will be ready for the 2020 season.
Tennis posted a 2-8 record last year, including a 1-6 mark in the GNAC. Top-seeded and preseason number one Colby-Sawyer went on to win the 2018 GNAC Championship over two-time defending champion, Johnson & Wales University (JWU).
JWU garnered three first-place votes and 58 points overall to lead the 2019 preseason poll, followed by Regis College with 50 points and one first-place vote. Associate member Eastern Nazarene College rounded out the top three with 49 points and one first-place vote, while defending GNAC champ Colby-Sawyer took fourth with 46, including three first-place nods.
Rounding out the top-five was longtime GNAC women's tennis power Simmons University with 46 points, which won 11 GNAC titles in 12 years from 2004-15, including eight straight beginning in 2008.
The remainder of the poll included Suffolk University with 25 points, USJ with 20, and Albertus Magnus College with nine.
The top-six GNAC teams in the regular-season standings will advance to the 2019 GNAC Tournament, which is set to begin with the first round on Wednesday, October 16, with the #3 and #4 seeds hosting the #5 and #6 seeds in play-in matches. The semifinals will be held on Saturday, October 19 with the final two advancing teams playing in the championship match on Sunday, October 20. Both the semifinals and championship will once again be held at a neutral site at the Winchester Indoor Tennis Center.
The 2019 GNAC champion will earn the conference's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament in the spring of 2020.
The Blue Jays finished seventh in the regular-season standings at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign narrowly missing a berth to the postseason tournament.
Admission to all USJ women's regular-season tennis match in 2019 are free of charge and will be played off campus at Hall High School.
2019 GNAC Women's Tennis Preseason Poll
1. Johnson & Wales (3) - 58
2. Regis (1) - 50
3. Eastern Nazarene (1) - 49
4. Colby-Sawyer (3) - 46
5. Simmons - 31
6. Suffolk - 25
7. Saint Joseph (CT) - 20
8. Albertus Magnus - 9
About the GNAC
The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 22 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience.