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Junior captain Grace Messina (Caracas, Venezuela) of the Merrimack College women’s tennis team made program history by becoming the first-ever nationally ranked student-athlete, according to the most recent Oracle/Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Division II Women’s National Singles Rankings.

Messina came in at No. 38 in the poll, in a ranking that include the top-50 players nationwide. She was one of only three players in the East Region to be recognized, and is the third-ranked player in the region, as deemed by the ITA Regional polls.

“I couldn’t be happier that Grace is being recognized nationally for her play. I’ve been very lucky to coach her the past two seasons and she’s truly been a joy to have on the team,” said head coach Aaron Bergeron. “She makes her teammates better and her will to win is unlike any college player I’ve come across.”  

The three-time Vern Cox Northeast-10 Player of the Year posted a 19-2 overall record, with her two defeats coming against nationally ranked opponents. She went 12-0 in league play during the regular season for the third straight year, improving her undefeated mark to 36-0 over her career.

“I’ve never questioned her fight, regardless of opponent or score of the match. She’s the best competitor I’ve ever seen in the NE-10,” Bergeron added. “She represents Merrimack College as well as any athlete can, on and off the court.”

Messina started her year by winning the first 29 sets she played in dual-match action. She only lost five sets on the season, winning nearly 90 percent of the frames she played this year. She didn’t allow her opponent to win a game in nine of her 44 sets played, and she won by at least a three-game margin in 66 percent of her set victories.

The lone senior on next year’s projected roster, Messina is also a three-time NE-10 All-Conference First Team selection at No. 1 singles.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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