Sept. 4, 2009
By Zach Stipe
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Led by four returners from its NCAA Championship-qualifying squad, the Tennessee women's golf team earned the No. 18 ranking in the preseason Golf World/NGCA Coaches' Poll.
Defending NCAA-champion Arizona State snagged the top spot in the preseason poll with 34 first-place votes, while USC and UCLA rounded out the top-three with five and two first-place votes, respectively.
Lady Vol head coach Judi Pavon heads into her 10th season at the helm with seniors Ginny Brown and Diana Cantú, junior Lauren Spurlock and sophomore Nathalie Mansson returning from its 17th-place NCAA Championship squad.
UT opens the season Sept. 13-14 at the College of Charleston's Duramed Cougar Classic in Hanahan, S.C.
Last season, Tennessee entered the fall carrying a No. 25 preseason ranking from Golf World, but dropped out of the rankings after finishing out of the top-10 at its first two tournaments.
The Lady Vols rebounded last spring, however, and, in addition to competing at the national championship tournament, placed fourth at both the SEC Championship and the NCAA East Regional.
UT finished the season as the first team out of the Golf World/NGCA poll, but was 20th in the final Golfstat rankings and No. 24 in the Golfweek/Sagarin standings.
Mansson set the UT freshman record for stroke average (73.79) in 2008-09 en route to being named honorable mention All-America by Golfweek, and earning All-SEC Second Team and All-East Region accolades.
She joins Brown, Cantú and Spurlock as returners from the 2009 postseason team and the core of this season's Lady Vol squad. Junior Rebecca Watson and freshmen Erica Popson, Sara Monberg and Leigh Henderson round out the 2009-10 Big Orange team.
The Golf World preseason poll will be featured in the magazine's annual college preview issue on Sept. 7, and can be accessed online at www.golfworld.com.