PROVIDENCE, RI - For the past two seasons, the Johnson & Wales University women's tennis team has been the dominant force in the GNAC. The road to a third-straight championship in 2018 will be tougher for the Wildcats.
Johnson & Wales gets the season started with a 1 p.m. contest Saturday at Curry. JWU is home on Monday to take on Western New England at 3:30 p.m.
Three teams that are serious contenders have entered the conference in the past two years. The most recent addition is Colby-Sawyer, the favorite in the preseason poll. The Chargers received four first-place votes to edge the Wildcats, 57-56, in the poll. Simmons garnered 49 points, followed by Regis (39 points) and new associate member Eastern Nazarene (32 points).
In addition to new competition, graduation has depleted head coach Devin Kitterick's roster. Gone is 2017 GNAC Player of the Year Nina Cohen as well as his number two, five and six singles players.
Seniors Delaney Macchirole and Lauren Torre will be called upon to move up in the singles line-up. Macchirole, who earned Second-Team All-GNAC singles, went undefeated in singles last year with a 14-0 record, including 12-0 at number four. A First-Team All-GNAC selection, Torre posted a 9-3 mark at number three singles.
Johnson & Wales lost twice to Colby-Sawyer last year, including the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They'll meet for the first time as conference foes on September 15 at Centre Court. Simmons comes to town on September 29 and the Wildcats wrap up their home slate October 13 against Regis.