Men, women prepare for spring season

The women's team received 66 points in the poll to take the fourth place spot. The men's team received 30 votes for seventh. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Sophomore Carolyn Huerth from Prairie Grove, Ill., braces herself to return the ball at a recent practice. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Sophomore Carolyn Huerth from Prairie Grove, Ill., braces herself to return the ball at a recent practice. || Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Murray State’s men’s tennis team kicks off its spring season when it travels to Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 18.

The Racers will take on the Cardinals at Bass-Rudd Tennis Center in Louisville after one week of practice and preparation. Each player is responsible for maintaining fitness and developing their skills over the break.

The Winter Break training regiment is a little different than most sports, due to the fact that many of the players are international students, Head Coach Mel Purcell said.

The fall season consisted of tournament play instead of dual matches, which are played

team versus team. Purcell, who will enter into his 16th season, was pleased with the fall tournament play and has high hopes for this season.

“It’s difficult to gauge how the spring semester will go,” Purcell said. “We have some pretty tough competition right from the beginning. We’ll definitely be working on our doubles play throughout the season and our singles play will therefore improve.”

The Racers will be playing Louisville, Tennessee State and the University of Memphis within the first three weeks of their season, is ranked in the top 25 in the nation.

This will be the team’s second time traveling to Louisville; it kicked off its 2012 fall season at the Louisville Invitational Sept. 21-23. Strong showings in singles from junior Tyler Jeffers and doubles pair sophomore Max McLean and sophomore Aleks Mitric gave the Racers high hopes for the upcoming spring season.

The tough schedule in the spring will help the Racers prepare for the OVC Championships.

The relatively young men’s tennis team will face challenges as the number one and number two players left the team. Purcell described his young team as “gutsy.”

“I expect my guys to play gutsy, like I played when I was on the tour,” Purcell said. “I expect them to try for every ball. You wear a Murray State uniform and you go out there with class, character and sportsmanship.”

Another team at Murray State, the women’s team will start its season traveling to Jonesboro, Ark., to take on Arkansas State University on Feb 1. The Racers wrapped up their fall season at Arkansas State Nov. 12-14.

Freshman Erin Patton led the Racers with a third-place finish. Junior Carla Suga followed with a fourth-place finish at the Arkansas State Red Wolf Invitational.

This will be Head Coach Olga Elkin’s first season coaching the Racers. Elkin came to Murray State after coaching for two years at Kennesaw State University.

“I’m honored and blessed to have the opportunity that I’ve been given at Murray State,” Elkin said, in a quote on goracers.com. “I’m glad to be joining the Murray State family.”

Consistently strong showings from the women in the fall are expected to continue during the spring season.

The OVC Tournaments will be April 19-21 in Paducah, Ky.

Story by Laura Kovarik, Staff writer