MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The Auburn University at Montgomery men's and women's tennis teams each had its season opener against Emmanuel rained out on Friday. The Warhawks have rescheduled the match with the Lions for Thursday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., at the AUM Tennis Courts.
Despite having their first match of the year rescheduled, the AUM men and women earned top-5 rankings in the NAIA Preseason Coaches' Top-25 Polls, as the men enter the year ranked No. 4, while the defending national champion women's team was selected the preseason No. 1 team.
The women's squad returns its top three players from last year's 27-5 team in seniors Ana Veselinovic and Kveta Hajkova, as well as sophomore Jade Curtis.
Veselinovic, who also earned First-Team All-American honors the past two seasons, finished the 2011 season with a 26-2 singles record, playing primarily at the No. 1 flight. At the top position, the Herceg-Novi, Montenegro, native posted a 20-2, while also earning victories at the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 spots. She was equally impressive in doubles, recording a 28-3 record, including a 24-3 mark at the top position. She also earned conference player of the year honors.
In the NAIA Women's Tennis National Championship Tournament, Veselinovic earned victories over the No. 5 ranked Sara Celma (Fresno Pacific) and the top singles player in the nation (Point Loma Nazarene's Kristin Strimple). She also held a commanding lead against the No. 3 (Yi Ching Chen of Embry-Riddle) and No. 28 (Aziza Butoyi of Olivet Nazarene) ranked singles player during the tournament. Celma, Strimple and Chen all earned First-Team All-American honors, while Butoyi was an honorable mention selection.
Curtis finished last season with a 22-2 singles record playing primarily at the No. 2 position, and ended the season with 17 consecutive singles wins. She also posted a 20-1 doubles record. Curtis was named the Marvin P. Richmond Outstanding Player of the tournament, after she won all four of her singles matches in straight sets and teamed with Veselinovic to earn doubles points in each match for AUM. Curtis was also selected the SSAC Freshman of the Year.
A native of Bratislava, Slovakia, Hajkova finished the 2011 season with a 22-7 singles record and a 27-3 mark in doubles play. Hajkova posted a perfect 9-0 singles record at the No. 4 position, while tallying a 23-2 mark at the No. 2 doubles spot. The junior concluded the season with 10 consecutive wins in singles play and winning 17 of her final 18 doubles matches.
The Warhawks were one of five Southern States Athletic Conference women's teams ranked in the top 25. Joining AUM were Brenau (No. 7), William Carey (No. 12), Lee (No. 13), Shorter (No. 15) and Belhaven (No. 23). Last season, the Warhawks won its fourth consecutive SSAC Championship and its 11th National Championship.
The men's team advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA Tournament last year and posted a 25-4 record. In the preseason poll, AUM trails only defending national champion and No. 1 Fresno Pacific, national runner-up No. 2 Embry-Riddle and No. 3 Oklahoma Christian.
Junior Bence Toth and sophomore Zinelabidine Jouini anchor the returning players for the Warhawks, who earned their seventh straight SSAC Tournament Championship last season.
Toth, a two-time All-American, finished last year with a 16-6 record in singles matches, playing entirely at the top three positions. In doubles, the Budapest, Hungary native, posted a 14-9 record, appearing in matches at all three flights.
A native of Tunis, Tunisia, Jouini was a force in the middle of the AUM line up. In singles play, he posted a 17-7 record, appearing in matches at the No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 flights. While participating in just 17 doubles matches, Jouini tallied a 13-4 record, including winning his last eight matches.
The women will return to action on Saturday, when they travel to Clayton State for an 11 a.m. first serve. Both teams will follow by taking on West Florida on Thursday, Feb. 9, in Pensacola, Fla.