Women’s tennis concludes the fall portion of its schedule this weekend as the team travels to the Arkansas State Invitational.
Head Coach Olga Elkin said after competing in back-to-back tournaments in late September, the team is ready to get back to competition.
“We’ve been working on individual drills a lot these past few weeks, but we are really excited to get back to playing tournament matches,” Elkin said.
The team has had success its first two tournaments of the season, with six players making nine finals and claiming six tournament victories.
The team is led by senior Carla Suga and junior Andrea Eskauriatza, who have played well and established their leadership on the court.
With the long break between tournaments, the two said they are looking forward to getting back to tournaments.
“I enjoyed my break, but I’m the type of person that if I take a couple of days off, I don’t know what to do with my life,” Suga said.
The team spent the break working on areas each player needed to improve on.
“We’ve been working on consistency every day, and have been making lots of progress,” Suga said.
Eskauriatza, who has made two finals appearances this year, has been working on conditioning so she can compete and stay healthy.
“It was something I needed the most,” Eskauriatza said. “I was getting injured basically because I was lacking in that area, so I got myself healthy and in much better shape.”
This year is Eskauriatza’s first for Murray State after playing two years in Mexico. She said the biggest assistance this year has been having a coach to push her.
“I didn’t train a lot before I got here,” Eskauriatza said. “I had to be self-motivated because I didn’t have a coach, and it’s great having someone who can push you and show you what you are doing wrong.”
Elkin said Eskauriatza is feisty on the court.
“She is the type of player that is going to give 110 percent every practice and point,” Elkin said. “She is a great presence at practice and the team is learning a lot from her.”
In doubles, the two upperclassmen are teammates. While Eskauriatza and Suga are a pair, they have completely different personalities. Eskauriatza is the quiet one, with Suga being more vocal.
“I’m a very competitive person and I would be lying if I said I didn’t like to win,” Suga said. “It is frustrating when you work and make a good play and then mess up so I have to let out some emotion.”
On the court, the two personalities come together and work well – when they can understand what each are saying.
“Sometimes we have communication issues because I speak a lot of Spanish and she can’t understand what I’m saying,” Eskauriatza said. “Overall (Carla) is an aggressive player like me and it complements me well.”
Suga said she enjoys playing with Eskauriatza and has faith in her doubles partner.
“(Andrea) complements me well on shots I can’t get,” Suga said. “I don’t have to worry about her getting a ball I can’t because I know she will be there.”
Elkin’s expectations for the team this weekend at Arkansas State is very simple – focus and the results will come.
“I want us to come into this last fall tournament and give 100 percent,” Elkin said. “They have done so well in the last two tournaments and we just need to focus on what we need to do on our side of the court and the results will come.”
Story by Tom Via, Staff Writer