For the first time in 26 years, women’s tennis defeated Arkansas State to improve to 2-0 in the spring season.
The most competitive game of the day came from senior Carla Suga, who has been the Racers’ most consistent player the past three years in dual matches.
Her final semester didn’t start off well, as she lost the team’s only match against Lindsey Wilson, but this week she bounced back and became more comfortable with her new racket.
“It has made me have to switch how I play,” Suga said. “I was having a tough time last week and even in practice but focused on taking smaller steps.”
The racket change was not due to Suga’s play, but because the brand discontinued the racket Suga had played with for years. With the adjustment to stringing and how the ball moves off the racket, Suga had to adapt.
“It is a lot more powerful,” Suga said. “I was hitting a lot of balls out of bounds because I would hit with the same speed and power as my old racket.”
In her three years at Murray State, Suga has won 43 dual matches, including her three-set victory Saturday. After winning the opening set 6-2, Suga fell behind and lost the second set 6-3. Facing a final set for the victory, Suga focused in.
“The previous game I focused myself on the upcoming tiebreaker in case it happened and it allowed me to prepare to start,” Suga said.
Leading 4-2 in the tiebreaker, Suga refused to drop a pivotal point that gave her momentum.
“She made me run from side to side and I got every single ball and it drove (my opponent) crazy,” Suga said.
With momentum on her side, Suga won the final set 10-3 to claim her first dual victory of the season.
In singles play, the Racers won five of the six points against the Red Wolves. Playing in the top draw, junior Andrea Eskauriatza earned her second win of the season over her Arkansas State opponent with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Freshmen sisters Eleonore and Verginie Tchakarova also earned victories. After teaming up in No. 1 doubles and earning a close 6-4 win, the two split apart but continued to win.
Playing in No. 3 draw, Eleonore won in straight sets, while Verginie played in the No. 5 draw and won 8-2.
In the spring season, neither of the sisters have lost a match.
In the No. 6 draw, sophomore Erin Patton defeated her opponent 8-4 to improve to 2-0 on the season as well.
The Racers’ only loss of the match came in the No. 4 draw. Sophomore Megan Blue played in the longest first set of the day but came up short, falling 6-5. The loss in the opening set gave Arkansas State momentum and the match as Blue fell 6-1 in the final set.
Suga said the victory for Murray State was a big one.
“It was great to finally defeat Arkansas State because it was one of those teams I had never beaten,” Suga said.
The victory of the Racers ended a 10-match losing streak to the Red Wolves.
Murray State has a chance to carry over the momentum with a pair of matches against Memphis and Chattanooga this weekend.
The Tigers are nationally ranked No. 33 coming into the match against the Racers and have defeated Murray State in the last three matches.
With one losing streak ended, Suga believes the team can defeat the Tigers.
“We just have to focus on what we are doing and how we are playing and not what Memphis is doing,” Suga said. “If we can do that, then I think we can stand up well against them.”
Murray State faces off against Memphis at noon today and follows that up with a match against Chattanooga at 9 a.m. Sunday. Both matches will be played at Memphis.
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer