The Georgia women’s tennis team was tabbed as the No. 4 team in the intial ITA poll, released on Tuesday afternoon.
Georgia, which went to the NCAA Final Four and was a finalist at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships last spring, is the third-highest of eight SEC teams to be ranked in the top 25 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s first poll of 2016. The Southeastern Conference had 13 of 14 schools claim a spot in the top 75.
“It is a huge honor to start another season in the top five in the country,” said head coach Jeff Wallace. “We realize there is a lot of work to be done and it is a long season.”
The Bulldogs return seven players from last year’s squad that finished with in the No. 5 spot, losing Lauren Herring but returning two All-Americans in senior Silvia Garcia and sophomore Ellen Perez.
In the ITA’s singles rankings, the Bulldogs have four players, with Perez leading the way at No. 12. The Shellharbour, Australia native claimed four victories over current top-25 players in the fall. Among those victories was a 6-2, 6-2 win over second-ranked Francesca Di Lorenzo of Ohio State.
Junior Caroline Brinson took the biggest jump of any player on the team, boosted by a strong fall in which she won the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional, checking in at No. 22 after holding the No. 72 spot through the fall.
Garcia and sophomore Kennedy Shaffer round out the ranked singles Bulldogs, coming in at No. 82 and No. 109, respectively.
The Bulldogs also boast two doubles pairs in the top 30 nationally, paced by the Perez-Mariana Gould combo that went to the semifinal of the ITA All-American Championships at No. 14. Garcia and Shaffer check in tied for No. 30.
The team will begin its season in Athens on Jan. 22 against No. 74 Wyoming at 1 p.m. For all the latest on Georgia women’s tennis, follow the team on Twitter (@UGAWomensTennis) and Instagram (@ugawomenstennis) and check in to georgiadogs.com.
T-4. North Carolina
10. Texas A&M
25. Ole Miss
28. South Carolina
29. Mississippi State