Men’s tennis fell in its first competition of the new season, gaining valuable confidence it will try to carry forward.
Head Coach Mel Purcell chose four returning athletes for the annual Southern Intercollegiate Championship hosted by the University of Georgia.
While the team didn’t win a match at the major competition, it did face off against conference foes and gained experience for the season ahead.
The tournament saw multiple major universities at the competition, and Purcell said it was a great way for his team to learn where it is to open the season.
Purcell selected senior Adam Taylor, juniors Max McLean and Aleks Mitric and sophomore Nicholas Mitric for the event.
Taylor competed in Division I singles and faced off against a player from Georgia Gwinnett in his opening match.
Both sets were close, but in the end Taylor fell in straight sets 7-5 and 6-4 and played in the consolation round to extend his time in Georgia.
“Adam has a big serve and can hit really big shots from the baseline,” Purcell said. “He had a lot of deuce points; it was a matter of not converting big points.”
In the consolation round, Taylor fell 6-4 and 6-2 to end his singles competition at 0-2.
“This tournament gave Adam the confidence that he belongs up here with the top competition,” Purcell said.
Purcell selected the other three players to represent Murray State in the Division II singles competition. Like their teammate, each lost in the opening round.
McLean would muster only one game against his East Tennessee State opponent falling 6-1, 6-0 and dropping into the consolation round where he saw an OVC foe.
Taking on Tennessee Tech in the consolation round, McLean stumbled in the opening set, falling 6-3.
In the second set, McLean rebounded and evened the match with a 6-1 win.
McLean came up short in the tiebreaker where he lost 10-7, and compiling a 0-2 record in singles competition.
Aleks Mitric was the final singles player for Murray State, and opened against Winthrop. After losing the first set by a wide margin, Mitric rallied from behind but still dropped the first matchup 6-1 and 6-4.
Mitric would follow up his performance with a loss to another Tennessee Tech foe, 6-2 and 6-0.
In doubles competition, Taylor and McLean teamed up in the Division I bracket, and the Mitric brothers in Division II.
In the Division I bracket, Murray State lost to the University of Tennessee 8-4, handing both Racers their third loss of the competition.
“They had chances against Tennessee,” Purcell said. “They broke the set early and had some chances to win the game.”
The Mitric brothers received a bye into the round of 32 for their competition and faced off against Georgia Gwinnett College.
The Mitric brothers fell behind early in the match and lost 8-2.
Although the results didn’t go in the Racers’ favor, Purcell said he believes it was a positive experience for his players, and something from which they can grow.
“This was all about the players gaining confidence and them knowing that they belong on the same court,” Purcell said. “We will get right back at it this week and work on the things this weekend showed we needed to work on.”
Men’s tennis returns to action Oct. 4 when the Racers play in the Paducah Sun Open in Paducah, Ky.
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer