Embry-Riddle's Zmak, Georgia Gwinnett's Podda Rank No. 1 in Final '14-'15 Rankings
Zmak goes wire-to-wire for second-straight year
SKILLMAN, NJ (May 28) - The final Oracle/ITA National NAIA Rankings of the 2014-15 season are published today, unveiling the top 50 national singles players and top 25 national doubles teams in NAIA men's and women's tennis. Regional top 20 singles and top 10 doubles rankings are also published today.
Embry-Riddle's Deni Zmak held down the No. 1 national ranking for all four editions of the 2014-15 season, his second-straight year achieving the feat. The junior led his team to a runner-up finish in the NAIA National Tournament, where they fell to Georgia Gwinnett for the second straight season. Zmak finished the season with a 30-1 record and was named Sun Conference Player of the Year.
Georgia Gwinnett's Jordan Cox is ranked behind Zmak as the No. 2 singles player in the nation. The pair dueled in the NAIA Championship match but the result was left unfinished when Georgia Gwinnett clinched the victory as a team at third singles. Cox and Zmak each had won 10 games midway through the second set when the match was called. Cox's teammates Kevin Konfederak and Matias Hatem are also ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in the national rankings.
Trailing Cox at No. 3 is Vanguard's Stefan Kilchhofer, and No. 4 is Edberg Espinosa from Lindsey Wilson. Kilchhofer led the 27-2 Lions to the NAIA National Tournament semifinals, where they lost to Embry-Riddle. Kilchhofer lost just one singles match in three seasons at Vanguard. Espinosa posted an 18-2 record for Lindsey Wilson, helping the team advance to the national quarterfinals with a 20-3 overall record.
In women's singles, Georgia Gwinnett's Valeria Podda unseated Xavier (LA)'s Nour Abbes as the No. 1 player in the nation, ending Abbes' bid to join Zmak with wire-to-wire No. 1 rankings for the season. Abbes finishes the season ranked No. 2. Podda defeated Abbes in their only face-off this season, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, in the NAIA National Championship semifinals. In the championship match, Podda recorded a 6-1, 6-0 win over the No. 6 ranked player Alice Baudeigne and won a point in doubles, but her team ultimately fell to Auburn Montgomery 5-4.
Trailing Podda and Abbes in the women's top five are No. 3 Lauren Stratman from Westmont, the No. 1 singles and doubles player in the West region; No 4 Anastasia Baranova of Oklahoma Baptist, the top singles and doubles player in the Central region; and No. 5 Camille Gbaguidi from Savannah College of Art and Design, the nation's top-ranked freshman.
In men's doubles, Deni Zmak and Jaime Sanchez-Canamares Rios from Embry-Riddle finish the season atop the national rankings, improving from No. 4 in the last edition. The duo posted a 29-8 record this season and are ranked No. 1 for the first time since the fall rankings in October. Behind Zmak and Rios, previous No. 1 Rafael Lenz and Alvaro Iturriaga fom Northwood are down to No. 2. Southeastern (FL)'s top duo of Gelawdiyos Haile and David Veliz are ranked No. 3, Lindsey Wilson's Edberg Espinosa and Francisco Charters are No. 4 and Northwestern Ohio's Thommy Johansson and Daniel Rueda conclude the top five.
In women's doubles, Oklahoma Baptist's Anastasia Baranova and Kateryna Shkot are the No. 1 ranked doubles team for the fourth-straight edition, completing their own wire-to-wire sweep this season. Trailing Baranova and Shkot are Westmont's Lauren Stratman and Ines Costamagna, who jumped from No. 10 to No. 2 in the final edition of the rankings. Stratman and Costamagna went 22-1 on the court this season, with their lone loss being to Division I Nevada. Georgia Gwinnett's Valeria Podda and Laura Wehner slid from No. 2 to No. 3, while Xavier (LA)'s Caroline Vernet and Simone-Alyse Ewell are ranked No. 4, up from No. 11 previously. Savannah College's Camille Gbaguidi and Carolina Viteri round out the top five.
Also published today in addition to the national rankings are the final regional top 20 singles and top 10 doubles rankings for each of the four regions. For complete men's national and regional singles and doubles rankings, click here. For complete women's national and regional singles and doubles rankings, click here.
About the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings
As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA administers the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings that are designed to track the top men's and women's teams, along with singles and doubles players in NCAA Divisions I, II, III, NAIA, Junior Colleges and California Junior Colleges. For full rankings information, please visit www.itatennis.com/AwardsAndRankings/Rankings.htm.