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Jan. 3, 2014
SKILLMAN, N.J. - The Penn State women's tennis team will enter the spring season ranked No. 49 in the ITA Rankings. This is the second year in a row the Nittany Lions will begin the spring season ranked in the team poll having shared the No. 50 spot with UNLV in the first poll last season.
Last season the Nittany Lions had one of their best seasons in program history beginning the season on a nine-game winning streak. Penn State peaked at No. 30 in last year's rankings while knocking off five teams ranked in the season's final ITA Poll. The Nittany Lions finished the season at No. 47 and Petra Januskova (Ottawa, Canada) and Chelsea Utting (Peachtree City, Ga.) became only the third pair of Nittany Lions to compete in the NCAA Doubles Tournament.
The Nittany Lions bring back eight players from last year's team with Utting, Carmen Sandor (Toronto, Canada) and Marie-Frederique Bedard (Montreal, Canada) all returning for their senior seasons. Utting ranked as high as No. 21 in last season's doubles rankings but will begin this season unranked.
Sophomores Devan McCluskey (Phoenix, Ariz), Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbrigeworth, England), Jacqueline Zuhse (Boca Raton, Fla.), Lisa Petruzillo (Muttontown, N.Y.) and Emily Rivers (Washington D.C.) round out the rest of the returning players.
The Nittany Lions roster also features five freshmen led by Samantha Tutelman (New York, N.Y.) and Taylor Shukow (Boca Raton, Fla.) who were both ranked nationally by TennisRecruiting.net. Katia Blik (Moscow, Russia), Melissa Minniti (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Dasha Sapogova (Belarus, Minsk) close out the freshman class.
The Nittany Lions join seven other Big Ten teams in the ITA Team Poll with Michigan leading the way at No. 11 followed by Northwestern and Nebraska at No. 15 and No. 25 respectively. Purdue (No. 27), Indiana (No. 41), Illinois (No. 44) and Ohio State (No. 72) also enter the season in the rankings.
Penn State will also face six non-conference teams ranked in the ITA Team Poll this spring including No. 43 Kentucky at home on Saturday, Feb. 1. The remaining ranked teams on the schedule are No. 19 Baylor, No. 39 VCU, No. 40 William & Mary, No. 52 SMU and No. 59 South Florida.
The Nittany Lions do not feature any players ranked in the ITA National and Regional Singles and Doubles Poll to start the season. The next ITA Poll will be released on Jan. 21 and it will only be the Team Poll. The ITA Singles and Double Rankings will be updated on on Feb. 11. Regional rankings will not be updated again until the season's end on June 4.