The Columbus State tennis teams have established themselves as regulars in the NCAA Division II tournament. As they open the 2014 season today, they will try to continue that tradition.
Both teams will host Stillman at 2 p.m. at the Mary V. Blackmon Tennis Center.
The Lady Cougars have advanced to the Sweet 16 each of the past two seasons. They have compiled a 50-7 record with all seven losses coming against top-five opponents.
"This is one of the most talented teams from top to bottom that Columbus State has ever had," coach Evan Isaacs said.
"If we can just match the desire and intensity that our teams in the past have had, we will have another special season."
CSU will begin this season ranked No. 5, the highest preseason ranking in the program's history.
This season, the Lady Cougars will begin the year ranked fifth in the nation, the highest preseason ranking ever in program.
Paola Cigui, who is a two-time All-American and the two-time reigning PBC Player of the Year, is back for her senior season.
Cigui became the first CSU player (male or female) to be ranked No. 1 in the ITA poll last season and will begin this year ranked second in singles play.
Also returning is Laura Chapman, who won a gold medal in the Deaf Olympics during the pffseason.
Meanwhile, the Cougars, who are coming off an 18-4 season, have reached the NCAA tournament for six straioght seasons.
"It will be tough trying to replace the top three players from last season," Isaacs said. "However, we had a very deep and talented group of nine players from last year and the returners have a great opportunity to move this team forward.
"I know we are going to compete at a high level this year and I'm looking forward to seeing what the season has in store for us."
Senior Danilo Sardelli is the most experienced player on the 2014 roster. He has played 55 matches for the Cougars, going 46-9. But the majority of those matches came at the fifth and sixth positions.