Preparing for home matches

Senior Tyler Jeffers goes for an underhand shot against Bethel University at the Bennie Purcell Courts Tuesday. Despite starting the season 0-9, the team still confident they can earn a win in conference play. || Lori Allen/The News
Senior Tyler Jeffers goes for an underhand shot against Bethel University at the Bennie Purcell Courts Tuesday. Despite starting the season 0-9, the team still confident they can earn a win in conference play. || Lori Allen/The News

Senior Tyler Jeffers goes for an underhand shot against Bethel University at the Bennie Purcell Courts Tuesday. Despite starting the season 0-9, the team still confident they can earn a win in conference play. || Lori Allen/The News

After a tough start to the spring season, the men’s tennis team has been training hard for upcoming home matches.

The Racers started off the season 0-9. A tough-starting season lineup against University of Louisville, University of Tennessee, Aibileen Christian and University of Memphis pushed the Racers to get back in the swing of things quickly.

Head Coach Mel Purcell said with only one week back from break to prepare and begin training for the spring season, the task of matching up doubles and getting the men back to work was difficult. With a four-week break from match play, the team is newly energized and ready to play.

The Racers faced Bethel University at the Kenlake Tennis Center?Tuesday. The team lost to Bethel 5-2. Despite getting swept in doubles matches 0-9, the Racers put up a good fight in singles play.

No. 3 singles player Tyler Jeffers secured a win after three fast-paced sets. Jeffers defeated his Bethel opponent 3-6, 7-6 and 10-7.

After a grueling match, No. 2 singles player junior Adam Taylor also won his second dual match victory of the season 6-2 and 6-3.

“Mentally, the guy was very frustrating,” Taylor said. “My favorite aspect of tennis that it is one-on-one; you have no one to blame but yourself.”

Senior Joao Camara fell from No. 1 singles 6-2 and 6-2. Senior Ryan Kennedy, sophomore Aleks Mitric and freshman Nick Mitric all lost their respective singles matches.

Despite the rough start, Purcell said he remains optimistic about the upcoming conference play.

“The guys play well, I want to be playing good enough so we can prepare for this weekend and for OVCs,” Purcell said. “I’m disappointed we lost but the guys are playing really well. We have a tough schedule starting off.”

Taylor also thinks his team is going to be ready for the upcoming conference play.

“I think when we start conference play we’re going to be ready.” He said. “We have a really solid team this year for conference. We’re learning to compete better and learning not to give up. ”

A key Racer player, sophomore Max McClean, was missing from the lineup this match. This caused shift in some of the rankings, Purcell said.

“The guys did not give up,” he said. “Whether we win or lose I want effort and the guys are doing really well. They hustled, they tried every point and that’s all I can ask. They represented Murray State the way they were supposed to.”

The Racers will return to action on Saturday against Morehead State. This will be the team’s first conference match, and Morehead State is in the OVC. So far, the Eagles have had a less than satisfactory spring season with a 3-5 record.

Coming off a loss against the Wright State Raiders, 6-1 Morehead State is hoping to walk away with a win.

This will be the first and only time the Racers face the Eagles in tournament play outside of the OVC Championships April 19-21. At their meeting in 2012, the Racers lost to the Raiders 5-2.

With little time to rest, the Racers will be back on the courts to play the Eastern Kentucky Colonels Sunday at the Kenlake Tennis Center.

The Colonels defeated Murray State during the 2012 season and had a 4-0 win over the Racers in the first round of 2012 OVC Tournament.

After a long weekend of tournament play, the Racers will finish out their four-home games against Western Kentucky on Wednesday. The team defeated the Hilltoppers 5-2 during the 2012 season.

Story by Laura Kovarik, Staff writer.