TENNIS TRIUMPHS – Women’s team nearly doubles number of titles

Carla Suga (below) teamed with sophomore Megan Blue to claim second place in doubles play.

Women’s tennis concluded the fall portion of its schedule with five more titles at the Arkansas State University Invitational.

The team, which won six titles in its previous two tournaments, nearly doubled its championships and is looking to use these results as momentum builders for the spring season, according to Head Coach Olga Elkin.

Lori Allen // The News / In their last tournament of the fall season, junior Andrea Eskauriatza won the title in No. 1 singles play.

Lori Allen // The News
In their last tournament of the fall season, junior Andrea Eskauriatza won the title in No. 1 singles play.

“The girls have seen the success we have had this fall, and I think they are very excited to turn this season’s success into the spring,” Elkin said.

The team claimed three individual titles, along with two of the four doubles draws that were at the tournament in Jonesboro, Ark.

Junior Andrea Eskauriatza brought home the women’s number one singles draw in perfect fashion. Eskauriatza won all three of her matches without dropping a set, with her toughest competition coming in the tournament final.

Taking on the top seed from Arkansas State, Eskauriatza won the first set 6-2. Going for the perfect tournament, Eskauriatza took a 5-1 lead before losing three straight games to her opponent and calling over Elkin.

“She called me over and she had been focusing on what had been happening the last four games, and I was able to calm her down so she could focus on the next game,” Elkin said.

After the conversation with her coach, Eskauriatza did not allow a point in the final game, taking the set and the championship.

Senior Carla Suga joined Eskauriatza in the number one draw and fell in the tournament’s opening match, but regained her focus to win the consolation side of the tournament.

Carla Suga teamed with sophomore Megan Blue to claim second place in doubles play.

Lori Allen // The News
Carla Suga teamed with sophomore Megan Blue to claim second place in doubles play.

After falling 7-6, 6-3, Suga did not drop another set in the tournament and claimed fifth place in the top draw. In the consolation final, Suga was forced to play extra games in each set, but was able to win in straight sets 7-5, 7-5.

“She played very well in the finals, and I am proud of how she was able to refocus and win the rest of her matches,” Elkin said.

The other two singles wins came from the freshman duo of Eleonore and Verginie Tchakarova, who each won their individual draws.

Eleonore competed in the flight two draw, and like her teammate in the top draw went unblemished in her matches.

Taking on OVC competition in the final, Eleonore put on her best performance of the tournament with a 6-3, 6-2 win over the Southeast Missouri player.

Verginie was slotted in the number four draw by Elkin and didn’t drop a set until the semifinals. The freshman lost the opening set of the semifinal 7-5, but showed composure to rally from behind with back-to-back 6-1 set wins to advance to the finals.

In the finals, Verginie settled back to her usual play and brought home the team’s third individual title with a 6-3, 6-0 win.

“This was the best that I have seen both Eleonore and Virginie play this year throughout a tournament,” Elkin said.

Sophomores Megan Blue and Erin Patton competed in the third flight at the ASU Invitational. Looking to join their teammates with victories, both played well, but Patton took a three-set loss in the semifinals.

In the other semifinal, Blue cruised to a 6-0, 6-1 win to advance to the Racers’ fourth final in the tournament.

Blue fell in a tiebreaker in the first set and could not rally in the second set, taking the tough 7-6, 7-5 loss to be runner-up.

In the doubles portion of the tournament, Elkin shook up the normal teams, pairing Eskauriatza with Patton and Suga with Blue.

The changes paid off for Murray State, as both would make it to a championship match.

Eskauriatza and Patton competed in flight two of the tournament, which was formatted as round robin play.

The new pair pulled out a narrow 8-7 win in its opening match against Central Arkansas and easily won the next two matches to claim the title.

The other new pair of Suga and Blue seemed to be on a similar track when it made the finals with a close 8-6 win over its ASU opponent. Standing in their way was a team featuring one of own teammates, Suzaan Stoltz.

Elkin put Stoltz in the fourth draw, and Stoltz was teamed up with a player from Southern Illinois Carbondale. In the tournament final that featured three Racers, it was Stoltz getting the 8-7 victory over Suga and Blue.

“I stayed away from that one match,” Elkin said. “It is always tough to play against your teammate, but they all did well with that.”

The Racers continued to have success in the doubles portion of the competition when the Tchakarova sisters dominated their first two matches.

In the championship match, the sisters battled but fell to Arkansas State 8-6.

Women’s tennis concludes the fall portion of its schedule with 11 championships won in three tournaments.

The team returns to action Jan. 26 when it takes on Lindsey Wilson at Kenlake State Park.


Story by Tom Via, Staff Writer