INDIANAPOLIS - The No. 21-ranked Marian University women's tennis team and 2012 Crossroads League Coach of the Year Cassie Mackell earned runner-up finishes in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons in the league. Last season, MU finished the year ranked 21st in the NAIA and just missed out on their first appearance at the NAIA national championship tournament. Coach Mackell and the Knights are looking for more in 2013-14. However, the schedule put together by Coach Mackell will test the will and talent of the ladies.
The team opens the year with the MU Doubles Tournament at the MU Tennis Courts in Indianapolis on Aug. 24 at 9 a.m. Doubles teams from 14 programs will compete as a tuneup for their respective regular seasons.
The regular team match season begins on Aug. 27 when Taylor University comes to MU for a 1 p.m. first serve. The Trojans finished last season fifth in the league with a 4-4 mark and finished 5-8 in the regular season. The Knights are 4-3 against Taylor in Mackell's five seasons, including a 9-0 win last season.
Goshen College comes to MU on Aug. 30 for a 3 p.m. first serve and the Knights are 5-0 against the Maple Leafs during Mackell's tenure. They have won the last four matches by 9-0 scores.
MU opens September on the road when the Knights head to Campbellsville University (Ky.) for a junior varsity match. First serve from Campbellsville, Ky., is to be determined.
Bethel College treks down to Indianapolis on Sept. 3 for a 1 p.m. first serve. The Pilots finished third in the league last season with a 6-2 mark and a 12-7 overall record. MU is 5-1 against the Pilots since Mackell's arrival in 2008. The Knights have won the last three matches by 8-1 scores, including the league tournament last season.
The Knights embark on their first road trip when they head to Georgetown College (Ky.) and Spring Arbor (Mich.) on Sept. 5 and 7. The Knights and Tigers have met in each of the last two seasons and MU has earned a pair of 8-1 wins. GC finished last season 14-8 with a 6-3 mark in the Mid-South Conference. The match will start at 3 p.m. in Georgetown, Ky.
MU returns to Crossroads League action with a trip to Spring Arbor on Sept. 7 for a 12 p.m. first serve. SAU finished fourth in the league last season with a 5-3 league mark and an 11-8 overall record. MU is 5-0 during Mackell's tenure against the Cougars with the last three meetings being 8-1 wins.
The team gets a break from action when select players head to the Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Sept. 12-14. Coach Mackell selects players to compete for the ITA regional championships in doubles and singles before the team comes back together for the rest of the regular season.
The Knights return home after the regional and takes on Saint Francis (Ind.) on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. at the MU Tennis Courts. USF finished sixth in the league last season with a 3-5 league mark and a 7-8 overall record. MU earned a 5-0 win last season and has won all six matches under Mackell's tutelage.
MU steps out of conference for a match at DePauw University on Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. before returning home for the final three matches of the regular season.
The Knights host Huntington on Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. and will be looking for their sixth straight win over the Foresters. HU finished the 2012-13 season with a 4-12 overall mark and a 1-7 record in league play.
The showdown that has decided the last two league championships comes on Sept. 24 when defending champion and 16th-ranked Indiana Wesleyan comes to MU Tennis Courts. The Knights are 0-8 against IWU during Mackell's tenure and have fallen in each of the last two league tournament championship matches to decide the NAIA automatic qualifier from the league. First serve is slated for 3 p.m.
The regular season ends on Sept. 26 when Grace College comes to Indianapolis for a 3 p.m. first serve. The Knights are 5-1 against the Lancers during Mackell's tenure. The Lancers finished seventh in the league last season with a 2-6 league mark and a 2-8 overall record.
The Crossroads League Tournament begins on Oct. 1 with the opening round before the semifinals take place on Oct. 3. The championship match will be played on Oct. 5 at the home of the highest remaining seed. Indiana Wesleyan has won 21 straight league titles, has had 17 straight undefeated fall seasons and is riding a 224-match winning streak during the fall season. The Knights are looking to be the first to pull off the feat of defeating the Wildcats and give them their first defeat in the league tournament in their program's history.