Racers face opponents home, away

Carly Besser
Staff writer

 

With the spring season moving closer to conference play, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are preparing for their next set of matches.

Photo by Kylie Townsend/The News

Coming off a loss in their last match against Southern Illinois, the women are preparing for two consecutive matches against Middle Tennessee State Saturday and Northern Iowa Sunday.

“We’ve been preparing very well,” women’s Head Coach Kara Amundson said. “I think when we get in the match, we’re competing for every single minute until the match is over, which is what you want to see out of your team this time of the year.”

Middle Tennessee (6-4) are a potential challenge for the Racers. The team has four seniors and international talent with players like senior Marietta Bigus from Poland, who currently has an 8-4 singles record.

When competing against Middle Tennessee State, Amundson said she wants to see the team improve on finishing the game better.

“What we need to get better at is when we’re giving ourselves opportunities to close out sets and matches, we need to take those opportunities,” she said. “I think we’re doing a good job of competing and getting them, we just need to learn to close the door if we want to do well.”

For Murray State, Cassidy Cunitz and Ashley Canty led the singles game when they played Southern Illinois. Amundson said she is seeing strong leadership and effort from everyone on the team in matches.

“The really cool thing about this season so far is that we’ve gotten points from every spot,” she said. “If you look at our results from our past matches, we’ve got wins from every single person on a given day, which is a really great thing to see that everyone is stepping up at different times.”

The men’s team, coming off a 5-2 win against Western Kentucky, will be facing Bethel Tuesday at home.

“It feels good to get a win,” Head Coach Mel Purcell said. “We got (some time) until Bethel to rest. Sometimes that’s good and bad, but it gives my guys a chance that weren’t healthy a chance to get healthy again.”

Western Kentucky (1-5) was hit hard with a doubles game performed by the Racers. Sophomore Arthur Valle and freshman Daniel Heibel were the first to get a victory. Other doubles teams in action were junior Tyler Jeffers and freshman Max McLean and senior Jose Berardo with redshirt sophomore Dylan Gerlach. Purcell said he hopes to see even more improvement in future matches.

“With doubles, we were winning big in the third match,” he said. “We’re playing better. I don’t know how good we will be yet because we’re young in the season, but that will make a difference to determine if we’re a challenging team this year. “

The warm weather and playing at home will give the Racers some advantage, Purcell said. This will be their first match outdoors, where the team is used to practicing.

“Most of my guys are South American and European,” he said. “They’re used to outdoor play with windy conditions so I would rather play outside.”

With the chemistry of doubles partners and the aggressive style showed by young players, the Racers will be a tough opponent for a struggling Bethel team with an 0-3 losing record.

“We’ve played Bethel different years,” Purcell said. “Sometimes they have really good teams and other times it’s different. It’ll be a good test for us to play that match then follow up with Austin Peay and SIU-Edwardsville.”

The men’s match against Bethel will be at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Bennie Purcell Courts. The women’s match against Middle Tennessee State will be 11 a.m. Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tenn.