The Lady Flames are picked to finish second in the Big South in 2018.
For a third straight year, Liberty women's tennis has been pegged to finish No. 2 in the Big South Women's Tennis Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches.
The Lady Flames, who have earned a share of the Big South Conference regular-season title each of the past two seasons, received seven second-place votes and a pair of third-place votes for 70 points. Winthrop garnered eight of the nine possible first-place votes for 80 points and its 15th straight preseason No. 1 ranking. The Eagles have won nine of the last 10 Big South Women's Tennis Championship crowns.
Charleston Southern collected the other first-place vote, along with a second-place vote and seven third-place votes to check in at No. 3 with 66 points. Campbell (53 points) and UNC Asheville (38 points) comprised the middle of the poll in the No. 4 and No. 5 positions, respectively.
Gardner-Webb (35 points) claimed the sixth spot, followed by Radford (26 points) in the seventh position. Presbyterian (No. 8, 24 points) and Longwood (No. 9, 13 points) rounded out the poll.
In 2017, the Lady Flames navigated a challenging schedule to finish with a 12-12 overall mark and 7-1 record in Big South play in head coach Jeff Maren's fifth season at the helm of the program.
Liberty's 12-player roster is comprised of one senior (captain Evangeline Crist), seven juniors (Rebekah Anderson, Ashley Bongart, Audrey Brown, Anna Dollar, Maria Medina, Aleksandra Panchenko and Lara Soares), one sophomore (Eugenia Camacho) and three freshmen (Nasha Ghajar, Grace Hashiguchi and Polina Miroshnichenko).
The Lady Flames open their spring 2018 slate in the Northeast, next weekend. Liberty will compete at Dartmouth on Jan. 20 and at Boston on Jan. 21. Liberty faced Boston for the first time in 2016 and has never faced Dartmouth.
The Lady Flames' home opener is against Elon on Feb. 9. Liberty's Big South opener will be a home contest against Campbell on March 1. The 2018 Big South Women's Tennis Championship will be held in Rock Hill, S.C., at Winthrop from April 17-20.
2018 Big South Conference Women's Tennis Preseason Poll Team (first-place votes) Total Points
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