AUGUSTA, Ga. – With the 2017 season beginning in mere days, the Peach Belt Conference has revealed the six-member men's tennis preseason All-Conference team and Augusta University sophomore Patrick Oliveira made the list.
The University of North Georgia was the only school with two players on the team; Armstrong State, Augusta, Columbus State and Francis Marion had one player each. The team was selected by the PBC men's tennis head coaches.
Patrick Oliveira had a spectacular freshman season in 2015-16, going 14-6 at #1 singles for the Jaguars. From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the sophomore was 5-5 against PBC opponents and helped the Jaguars to a #20 national ranking. Oliveira will begin the spring 2017 season ranked #12 in the nation in singles.
The Augusta University men's tennis team begins the season on Feb. 3 at Erskine College in Due West, S.C. The Lady Jags kick off 2017 at home on Feb. 1 against Clark Atlanta in Newman Tennis Center.
UNG's Niklas Zielen was named a 2016 ITA All-American in doubles as a freshman. A native of Frankfurt, Germany, he went 12-9 at #1 doubles with partner Phillip Mueller and was 11-9 in singles, all at the #1 spot as North Georgia advanced to the NCAA round of 16 for the first time in school history. Zielen is currently ranked #7 in the nation in singles in the 2017 ITA preseason poll and 18th in doubles with Alex Reinauer.
Reinauer enters his senior season at UNG as the winningest singles player in school history. From Stuttgart, Germany, he was 16-5 overall in singles play last year and had an outstanding fall campaign this year, reaching the semifinals at the ITA. Reinauer is currently ranked 16th in the nation in singles.
Armstrong State's Alberto Caceres Casas with 19-2 overall in singles play and 17-9 in doubles action as a freshman in 2016. The native of Madrid, Spain, was named an ITA All-American in doubles and finished 2016 ranked #10 in the nation with partner Jan Porteset. A PBC Tournament doubles MVP, Casas and Prteset are ranked #5 in the nation in the ITA preseason poll, tops among all PBC teams. He also the highest-ranked singles player in the league at #5 in the ITA poll.
Richard Ashforth could become the 11th player in PBC history to earn All-Conference honors all four years of his career. A senior from Durban, South Africa, he was named an ITA All-American in doubles and the ITA National Player to Watch for 2017. The 2014 PBC Freshman of the Year, he was 14-8 at #1 singles last year and 18-6 overall in doubles. Ashforth is ranked 18th in the nation in the 2017 ITA poll.
Columbus State's Kiranpal Pannu was named the 2016 PBC Freshman of the Year and the ITA Southeast Region Freshman of the Year. From Wellington, New Zealand, the sophomore was also named second-team All-Conference in singles after going 17-7 overall and 15-5 at the #1 spot. Pannu partnered with Zach Whaanga to go 18-6 in doubles play and he begins 2017 ranked #17 in the nation in singles, #16 in doubles.
Peach Belt Conference Men's Tennis
2017 Preseason All-Conference Team
- Richard Ashforth, Francis Marion
- Alberto Caceres Casas, Armstrong State
- Patrick Oliveira, Augusta
- Kiranpal Pannu, Columbus State
- Alex Reinauer, North Georgia
- Niklas Zielen, North Georgia
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