CHARLESTON, S.C. - Paced by a deep lineup and strong play throughout the regular season, the Charleston Southern women's tennis team enters the 2017 Big South Women's Tennis Championship as the team to watch and one of the favorites to hoist the trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Predicted to finish third in the conference's preseason poll, CSU finished 7-1 in league play and 15-2 overall to record the top overall winning percentage in the conference at .882. The second-seeded Bucs posted a league-best 14-match winning streak this season that included a 4-3 win over top-seed Winthrop.
Charleston Southern showcased its depth all across the court as four different players recorded double-digit wins in singles play during the campaign, while the duo of Sophie Cloessner and Nicolin Luecke picked up 10 wins in doubles competition.
This Bucs tied a share of the Big South regular season title in 2017, the program's third shared/outright title in the past four seasons following their 7-1 mark in conference competition. The Bucs were the only team to top top-seed Winthrop with the 4-3 win coming at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex on April 8.
CSU's lone loss came at Liberty the following weekend, 4-3, at the Cook Tennis Center. The Bucs are eyeing a potential rematch against the Flames in the semifinal round with a chance to potentially take on Winthrop in the championship match.
However, the No. 2-seed Bucs will have to get past No. 7 Presbyterian in the quarterfinal round on Friday morning at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. First serve between the Bucs and the Blue Hose is set for 9 a.m.
The Bucs took six All-Conference nods, as well as the Coach of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year when the Big South announced the women's tennis annual awards on Wednesday afternoon.
Head Coach Mike Baker earned his first Big South Coach of the Year honor since 2014 and fourth overall after guiding the Buccaneers to a share of the Big South regular-season championship.
Senior Nicolin Luecke earned Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors for the second consecutive season and is the conference's first repeat winner of the award since the 2008-09 season. Luecke lined up on the top courts for both singles and doubles play in the 2017 season for the Bucs.
Junior Sophie Cloessner received First Team All-Conference honors in singles play for the second consecutive season, while the doubles duo of seniors Mi'Kola Cooper and Valeria Koussenkova earned First Team honors for the first time in their playing career.
Koussenkova, Nicolin Luecke, and Kimberley Koerner all earned Second Team All-Conference honors in singles play. The doubles duo of Cloessner and Luecke earned Second Team doubles honors for the Bucs.
Cloessner had another dominant season for the Bucs lining up on courts no. 1 and 2 in singles play in the 2017 season. The junior from Wetzlar, Germany, went 15-2 overall in singles play and 7-1 in Big South competition on the year. Cloessner finished the regular season on an eight-match winning streak and clinched the Bucs' wins over Winthrop and Mercer in back-to-back days to keep CSU's 14-match winning streak intact. She went 12-1 overall on court no. 2 to lead the Bucs.
Cooper and Koussenkova provided a consistent doubles tandem for the Bucs lining up on doubles court no. 2 for CSU. The duo went 8-3 overall on the season and 6-1 in Big South Conference play with wins over opponents from Liberty, Longwood, Radford, Appalachian State, and Gardner-Webb, among others.
Luecke earned Second Team singles honors for the second straight season while lining up primarily on court no. 1 for the Bucs. Luecke went 8-9 on the top court for the Bucs and went 6-3 in Big South play on the year to pace the Bucs. The Herne, Germany native picked up wins over opponents from UNC Asheville, Presbyterian, Longwood, and Campbell among others in the 2017 season.
Koerner picked up All-Conference honors for the first time in her career as the Wedel, Germany native boasted the longest winning streak in the conference to start the season before finishing with a 15-2 mark, 6-2 in Big South play. Koerner opened the year with 14 consecutive singles wins and boasted an 11-2 mark on singles court no. 4.
Koussenkova went undefeated in Big South play for the first time in her collegiate career on her way to a 13-2 mark. The senior from Barcelona, Spain went 8-0 in conference play and enters this week's tournament with wins in nine of her last 10 matches lining up primarily on court no. 5 for CSU.
The doubles tandem of Cloessner and Luecke lined up on court no. 1 the entire season for CSU. The duo went 10-7 overall, 5-3 in conference play to receive Second Team honors in doubles play.
Cooper (9-4, 6-2) and Yana Morar (12-4, 6-2) also posted winning records for the Bucs in singles play lining up primarily on courts no. 3 and 6. The CSU doubles' duo of Koerner and Morar went 7-2 in doubles play on court no. 3 with a 4-2 record in conference competition.
Presbyterian was led by sophomore Tracy Johnson earning First Team All-Conference singles honors to lead the Blue Hose lineup. Johnson went 14-7 on the year and 3-4 in Big South Conference play while lining up on courts no. 1 and 2 on the season. The doubles' duo of Nicole Croxton and Johnson led the PC lineup with a 12-8 record and 3-4 record in Big South play.
Recapping 2017 Season vs. Presbyterian – Charleston Southern 7, Presbyterian 0 – March 29, 2017
Charleston Southern ran its winning streak to 11 in a row with a 7-0 victory over visiting Presbyterian College at the Buccaneer Tennis Complex.
The Buccaneers rallied to take two of the three doubles matches and followed with straight set wins on all six singles courts to pick up their fifth conference win of the 2017 season. Presbyterian took the victory on doubles court no. 3 in falling to 11-7, 1-4 in Big South play on the season.