Western men's tennis picked to finish fifth in LEC Pre-Season Poll

official release from Jack Holleran - LEC Director of Communications

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA (Mar. 21) —The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has been selected as the favorite to capture the 2012 regular-season title, according to the inaugural Little East men's tennis preseason coaches' poll that was released this afternoon. The Corsairs earned five of the seven first place votes and a total of 46 points to sit atop the coaches' survey.

The University of Southern Maine received the remaining two first place votes to enter the 2012 conference campaign as the projected challenger to UMass Dartmouth. Bridgewater State University (32) and the University of Massachusetts Boston (24) complete the top-half of the seven-team preseason rankings.

Under the watchful eye of Tom Mendell, UMass Dartmouth captured the program's 10th Little East Championship trophy last spring. The Corsairs enjoyed one of the program's most successful seasons in 2011, when UMass Dartmouth posted an overall record of 11-1, including sweeping the conference circuit with a 6-0 mark. UMass Dartmouth earned the top seed in the Little East Championship and advanced to the finals by ousting the fourth-seeded Huskies. The Corsairs rallied to edge second-seeded Western Connecticut, 5-4, to win the championship and book their berth in the NCAA Division III tournament for the second time in the past three years.

Mendell will welcome back five of his top six singles players from the 2011 squad, including three members of the 2011 All-Little East teams. Junior Karsten Rathlev (Winchester, Mass.), the reigning Little East Player of the Year, is expected to assume his position at the top of the UMass Dartmouth lineup. Classmate Guillaume Cotte (Grenoble, France) will make an immediate the impact as he is predicted to earn the second-flight singles spot, while junior Brennan Dugas (East Falmouth, Mass.) will begin the season at No. 3 singles. The Corsairs will open their 2012 conference schedule at 1 p.m. on April 7, when UMass Dartmouth hosts intra-state rival UMass Boston.

Head Coach Ron Chicoine guided Southern Maine to the program's most single-season wins (9) since 2004. The Huskies sported a 9-6 overall record, including a 3-3 mark within the Little East. Southern Maine closed strong down the stretch, winning four of its final six matches. Chicoine led his charges into the Little East semifinal round after defeating Bridgewater State, 5-0, in the opening round. The Huskies will welcome back six student-athletes, including four starters, into the fold from 2011. Senior Zach Caron (North Conway, N.H.) and junior Jonathan Sproul (Bristol, Maine) are expected to compete for the No. 1 singles position. Southern Maine will begin its 2012 conference slate at 1 p.m. on March 31, when the Huskies travel to UMass Boston.

The Little East will sponsor a six-game conference schedule with each team playing each other one. The top six teams in the final regular-season standings qualify for the annual conference championship. The Little East tournament will be conducted over the course of three days with the highest seed earning the right to host the match. The top two seeds in the championship draw will receive a bye and host a semifinal contest on Thursday, May 3. The two semifinal winners will advance to the championship round on Saturday, May 5. The 2012 Little East champion will earn the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.

Completing the annual preseason survey in projected order of finish are Western Connecticut State University (20), Salem State University (18), and Rhode Island College (17).

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes. Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.

2012 Little East Men's Tennis Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

Institution

First Place

Points

1

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

5

46

2

University of Southern Maine

2

38

3

Bridgewater State University

 

32

4

University of Massachusetts Boston

 

24

5

Western Connecticut State University

 

20

6

Salem State University

 

18

7

Rhode Island College

 

17