After a fall season spent developing his young squad against some of the top teams in the region and putting the puzzle pieces together on his depth chart, Montana head men’s tennis coach Kris Nord is cautiously optimistic about the Griz as the Big Sky season nears.

It appears other coaches around the league feel the same way.

Montana has been selected to finish fifth in the annual Big Sky preseason coaches’ poll, gathering 93 points -- just four points behind No. 4 ranked Northern Arizona, which also earned a single first-place vote.

With Peter Mimnagh-Fleming, this year's lone senior, set to lead a team that includes four underclassmen and three juniors, Nord says the No. 5 ranking will give his team motivation headed into their first match of the year in early February.

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“I think that’s pretty accurate,” said the veteran coach of 35 years. “There’s a lot of parity in our conference, both at the top and in the middle of the table."

The top of the table is something of a log jam, with Idaho picked to win with 110 points, but receiving one less first-place vote than Weber State, which is picked No. 2 with 105 points but six first-place votes.

Missoulian Staff

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