MOUNT OLIVE – The University of Mount Olive men’s tennis program was picked second in the preseason Conference Carolinas poll, which was released by the league office on Jan. 17.
Last season, the Trojans finished 15-6 overall with an 8-2 mark in conference play while reaching the championship finals of the league tournament in 2022. UMO returns five student-athletes from last year while introducing seven newcomers to the roster under second-year head coach Carlos Lara.
Players to watch for the Trojans this season include Guilherme Zotin de Oliveira, a junior from Rio Claro, Brazil. He was 2021 Second Team All-Conference Carolinas and Conference Carolinas All-Tournament and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. A promising newcomer is Daniel Hammond, a freshman from Whangarei, New Zealand. Another veteran returning is Israel Rodriguez Rojas, a senior from Guayaquil, Ecuador. He was selected to the conference All-Tournament Team in 2022 and in 2021 was Second Team All-Conference and made the All-Tournament Team.
Belmont Abbey was selected as the preseason favorite in the conference after receiving seven of 10 first-place votes in the poll. The Crusaders made the NCAA Tournament and claimed their first conference title last season after posting a 10-0 record in league play. Mount Olive earned the final three first-place nods and was selected second overall following an 8-2 mark in conference action last year. Francis Marion was chosen third in the rankings, while Emmanuel and Barton rounded out the top five in the poll.
The Conference Carolinas championship is set for April 21-23 at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center in Florence, S.C.
— From University of Mount Olive Athletics