Women’s tennis opened the fall season with a strong showing at the Austin Peay Fall Tournament, with six girls making finals and bringing home four victories.
Head Coach Olga Elkin was pleased with the results in the first tournament of the year.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way they played, the way they fought and competed,” Elkin said. “That showed in the results and overall it was a great tournament from every single one of them.”
Murray State dominated the doubles competition, losing only one of eight matches it played in the tournament.
The freshmen duo of Eleonore Tchakarova and Verginie Tchakarova defeated three OVC teams on the way to a tournament win.
On the path to the championship, the sisters defeated their opening round opponent Southeast Missouri 6-1, followed by a 6-1 rout of Austin Peay.
The Racers were joined in the semifinals by teammates, giving Murray State three of the four semifinal spots.
Joining them were sophomores Megan Blue and Erin Patton, who won the first two rounds of the doubles tournament. The third Racer pairing in the semifinals was senior Carla Suga and junior Andrea Eskauriatza, who defeated two teams from SEMO.
Eskauriatza and Suga lost to UT Martin 6-2, giving the Racers their only loss in doubles competition. The Tchakarova sisters defeated their teammates Blue and Patton to advance.
“It was great making finals with all our teams, but with that two teams have to play each other and it’s always tough to play your teammates,” Elkin said.
In the finals, the sisters easily beat UT Martin 6-3 to bring home the championship.
“(The Tchakarova sisters) just love to compete,” Elkin said. “They didn’t come out nervous and did very well, and I’m proud of them for that.”
In the singles competition it was again the freshmen sisters doing well and making finals.
Eleonore and Blue competed in the Flight B portion of the tournament. Both advanced to the semifinals after straight set victories over Western Kentucky and SEMO.
In the semifinals, Blue fell behind early in the first set and couldn’t recover, losing 6-4 and 6-2. Tchakarova defeated her second Western Kentucky opponent in the tournament to advance to the finals.
In a hard-fought final, Tchakarova dropped the opening set 6-4 but rebounded in the second set, winning with the same score. In the decisive set of first to 10, she lost 10-7 to finish runner-up.
In Flight C competition, Elkin chose Patton, Suzaan Stoltz and Verginie. Patton and Stoltz both played in the round of 16 and played three sets. Patton fell dropped the first set, won the second and lost the third 10-8. Stoltz played similarly, losing in the final set 10-6.
Both players regained momentum in the consolation rounds, winning three matches on their way to meeting in the finals.
Just like her twin sister, Verginie cruised into the finals of Flight C competition with wins over UT Martin and Western Kentucky. She split the first two sets, and gained an early lead in the third, but lost 10-6 for a runner-up finish.
In Flight A competition, Elkin selected her veterans Eskauriatza and Suga to compete.
Suga lost in the quarterfinals in straight sets, but in the consolation rounds won in straight sets against her SEMO opponent to advance to the team’s fifth final. In the final, Suga played a shortened match and won 8-3.
Eskauriatza handled her opponents easily to make it to the championship round. In the finals Sunday, Eskauriatza needed three sets to claim the tournament victory.
“She is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever seen,” Elkin said. “She wasn’t feeling well but wouldn’t give up and played an amazing tiebreaker.”
With its first competition behind them, women’s tennis looks to continue the momentum this weekend with a trip to Chattanooga for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Steve Baras Fall Classic.
Story by Tom Via, Staff Writer