With both the men’s and women’s tennis teams completing their regular seasons, it has been announced that they will be contenders in the upcoming OVC tournament.
After closing out the regular season with a 5-2 loss to Morehead State, the No. 6 seed men’s team is traveling to Nashville, Tenn. in hopes of taking home the title. The Racers last won the championship back to back in 2001 and 2002.
“Just making it is the main thing,” said Head Coach Mel Purcell. “Our hopes were to beat Morehead and get them out of the tournament. That would have given us a fifth seed. Eastern gave us a good beating last season so we have to go in and prove ourselves.”
Eastern Kentucky will be the first opponent for the Racers in the tournament. To be strong contenders, Purcell said he wants to focus mainly on doubles and maintain the strong singles momentum they had this season.
“It’s hard to play three or four hours a day before a tournament, so we’re trying to concentrate on our doubles play,” he said. “It’s one of the things we haven’t had a lot of success on this year and that’s going to be our best hope. Get good doubles and win a couple singles matches.”
In total, the team has won 20 OVC titles, the most of any school in the league. Eighteen of them were won by legendary coach Bennie Purcell. The remaining two were won by Mel Purcell.
“I felt I had to keep a tradition when I first took this job,” Mel Purcell said. “Murray State has had a great tradition since they restarted the program in 1956.”
The women’s team also closed out the regular season against Morehead, but with a 7-0 victory. They finished 11-10 overall, 6-3 in the OVC. The victory earned the Racers a No. 3 seed right in front of the No. 4 seed Eagles.
“It’s always great to come out of a regular season on a win,” said Head Coach Kara Amundson. “And we won 7-0 so you have to be confident going in the tournament.”
The team has potential momentum in the tournament, winning its last three doubles matches in a row against Morehead State. The Eagles will be the first match opponent for the Racers going into the tournament.
“We already know our competition going into it and I think it’s just a confidence builder for us going into this match.”
The women’s team is also a formidable singles opponent, sweeping six singles matches against Morehead State. Amundson said the team will step up with a versatile roster.
Also traveling to Nashville, the Racers are looking for their first OVC championship title since 2007.
“Our goals that we set at the beginning of this season were to be on top and make the tournament and to compete for the championship and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” Amundson said.
The men’s first tournament match will be today against No. 1 seed Eastern Kentucky at 10 a.m. in the Centennial Sportsplex. The women’s first tournament match will be against No. 4 seed Morehead State at 2 p.m in the Centennial Sportsplex.