WTEN Preview: Buccaneers open 2017 season at UNC Wilmington on Thursday afternoon

WTEN Preview: Buccaneers open 2017 season at UNC Wilmington on Thursday afternoon

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern opens the 2017 season on Thursday afternoon at the UNCW Tennis Courts as the Buccaneers travel to take on UNC Wilmington in the spring season opener. First serve in doubles competition is set for 2 p.m.

The Bucs-Seahawks match was originally scheduled for this past weekend, but due to the threat of inclement weather, the two teams postponed the match to Thursday afternoon.

The match is CSU's season opener as the Bucs take on the Seahawks for the first time since the 2015 season. CSU made the trip to the UNCW Tennis Complex for the Bucs' regular season finale on their way to sweeping through the Big South Championships. The Bucs topped UNCW, 6-1, in the match and were paced by a doubles sweep and key wins by returners Nicolin Luecke, Sophie Cloessner, and Valeria Koussenkova.

 Charleston Southern opened the spring slate with an exhibition at the Duckworth Winter Classic hosted by Clemson. The Bucs fell in a matchup against the Tigers, 6-1, with Cloessner picking up CSU's lone point of the match with a three-set win over Fernanda Navarro on court no. 2.

The Seahawks opened up the 2017 season this past Sunday at the Stevens Tennis Complex against Coastal Carolina. UNCW fell to the Chanticleers, 4-3, in a tight match. The Seahawks took the doubles point and wins on singles courts 1 and 2, but Coastal rallied with wins on the final four singles courts to take the match.

CSU will be led at the top once again by a pair of Big South All-Conference singles players in Luecke and Cloessner.

Luecke, the reigning Big South Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Second Team All-Conference selection, went 11-7 overall in singles play on court no. 1. Cloessner, the Bucs' representative on the All-Conference First Team, went a perfect 9-0 on court no. 2 on her way to a team-best 15-2 overall singles record on the season.

The Bucs will also be buoyed by the return of seniors Mi'Kola Cooper and Valeria Koussenkova, junior Kristen Farmer and sophomore Kimberley Koerner.

Cooper returns after missing the 2016 season due to injury, while Koussenkova has been a solid contributor in the CSU lineup with a career record of 29-7 record on courts 5 and 6. Koerner went 12-7 overall in singles play last season on courts 4 and 5. Farmer has provided solid depth to the CSU lineup over the past two seasons.

CSU added additional depth to the lineup with sophomore transfer Yana Morar (VCU), and freshmen Ally Blake and Femcke van Rensburg this season.

Projected Lineups for Thursday's Match (Based on Previous Results)
#1 Doubles – Cloessner/Luecke (CSU) vs. Theodossiou/Sillanpaa (UNCW)
#2 Doubles – Cooper/Morar (CSU) vs. Staume/Barisano (UNCW)
#3 Doubles – Koerner/van Rensburg (CSU) vs. Matute/Fougner (UNCW) 

#1 Singles – Nicolin Luecke (CSU) vs. Madara Straume (UNCW)
#2 Singles – Sophie Cloessner (CSU) vs. Alix Theodossiou (UNCW)
#3 Singles – Mi'Kola Cooper (CSU) vs. Xandra Fougner (UNCW)
#4 Singles – Kimberley Koerner (CSU) vs. Annika Sillanpaa (UNCW)
#5 Singles – Yana Morar (CSU) vs. Sabrina Barisano (UNCW)
#6 Singles – Femcke vsn Rensburg (CSU) vs. Celeste Matute (UNCW)