NEW ORLEANS — For the second consecutive season, Xavier University of Louisiana has ascended to No. 1 in the NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.
The Gold Nuggets (15-6) collected 12-of-13 first-place votes Tuesday and swapped places with Georgia Gwinnett, which dropped to second. Xavier defeated Georgia Gwinnett 5-3 on Saturday in the championship of the NAIA Unaffiliated Group 2 Tournament at XU.
On April 16, 2013, the Gold Nuggets became the first XU team in any sport to reach No. 1 in an NAIA coaches poll. They were No. 1 for three consecutive polls before losing to William Carey in the semifinals of the NAIA National Championship, then falling to No. 3 in the postseason poll.
This season the Gold Nuggets were third in the preseason, dropped to sixth in the first regular-season poll but climbed to No. 2 on March 18 after a 5-4 victory at then-No. 1 and three-time defending NAIA champion Auburn Montgomery. Xavier was No. 2 for three consecutive polls before Tuesday’s announcement.
It’s the Gold Nuggets’ 14th consecutive top-10 appearance and their fifth consecutive appearance in the top five.
“It’s nice to be No. 1,” XU coach Alan Green said, “but we were in the same position last year and didn’t finish on top. Our goal now is to refocus and try to come home with a national championship. We know if we don’t play our best, anyone in the top five can beat us.”
Xavier’s next dual will start at 9 a.m. on May 14 in the second round of the national tournament at Copeland-Cox Mobile Tennis Center at Mobile, Ala. The NAIA will announce the 24-team field May 5, and pairings will be revealed May 6.