PAWTUCKET, R.I.—After qualifying for the Little East Conference Tournament in each of the past two seasons, UMass Boston women's tennis was picked to earn another trip to the LEC Tournament this fall, the league office announced Thursday afternoon.
The Beacons finished in a two-way tie for fifth with Plymouth State University in the LEC Preseason Poll, with both teams collecting 33 points. If the Beacons finish in the top-six, they will earn three-consecutive trips to the LEC Tournament for the first time since the tournament format changed in 2008.
UMass Dartmouth was tabbed as the preseason favorite after taking home three first-place votes and 58 total points. The Corsairs just barely edged out the two teams that played in last year's LEC Finals. Tournament runner-up Rhode Island College finished second with three first-place votes and 57 points and defending champion Bridgewater State University added three first-place votes of their own and 54 total points.
Worcester State University picked up 38 points to finish in fourth in the poll. At the bottom of the poll, Western Connecticut State University (23 points), Salem State University (18 points) and University of Southern Maine (nine points) rounded out the nine-team poll.
UMass Boston is primed for a big season under head coach Eric Berg, after finishing with a program-record four conference wins in each of the past two years. This year's team returns the top three players in their lineup from a year ago and six of their eight players.
Senior Kristy Garcia (Miami, Fla.) should be at the top of the Beacons' lineup for a fourth-straight season. During the 2016-17 season, Garcia was named a First Team All-Conference Singles honoree and Second Team Doubles player. She enters this season second in program history in singles victories (27) and third in total victories (50).
This year's team added two players, including senior Martina Daelli (Florence, Italy). Daelli played at number two singles and number one doubles as a freshman in 2014, before taking the past two seasons off.
UMass Boston will open the season on Saturday at home, when they play a doubleheader against Lyndon State College (10 a.m.) and Farmingdale State College (3 p.m.). The Beacons will open the LEC season on Saturday September 9 against Bridgewater State University.