After weather postponed a match last week, men’s tennis returned to the court and earned its first victory of the season against Bethel.
The Racers finally faced similarly skilled competition where the players showed what they have learned from playing ranked opponents. Head Coach Mel Purcell believed the experience gained in team’s three losses was shown on the court.
“We played a really tough schedule at the beginning year and wins are tough to come by,” Purcell said. “I was really glad to see the team competing and it always feels much better when you have a W in your column.”
Taking advantage of sunny weather, Murray State played outdoors on its own courts on campus to face off against the Wildcats.
After freshmen Davis Hess and Mateo Barroetavena won on No. 3 doubles, the attention turned to senior Adam Taylor and junior Max McLean.
The Racers fell behind early in the match and trailed 4-1, but the duo settled down and rallied for with a 9-7 victory to earn the doubles point for Murray State.
“If we had been the (first one to six format) that we had been playing in our previous matches, we would have been in trouble,” Purcell said. “In doubles I don’t say much to the team, you just try to keep their spirits up.”
After the win, Murray State carried the doubles momentum into the singles competition. Coming off the doubles victory, Taylor played a close No. 1 singles match, earning the win in straight sets.
“Winning that doubles point was huge,” Purcell said. “It took the pressure off Adam and it let him play relaxed, which earned him the victory.”
While Taylor earned his 10th victory in his Murray State career, Hess earned his first. Hess got the victory with a 6-1, 6-0 performance.
“It was great to see David take earn that first victory at that spot,” Purcell said. “The OVC matches will be more difficult, but it gave him much needed confidence.”
After losing in doubles, brothers Aleks and Nicholas Mitric rebounded in their singles competition.
Playing at No. 3 singles, junior Aleks won the first set 6-0 before taking a close second set 6-4.
Sophomore Nicholas, like his brother, won in two sets.
“I was really excited to see them both bounce back after the way they played in doubles,” Purcell said.
Purcell said the match was great for his team as it gave the players much-needed confidence.
“We had a tough year last year and early this year but it feels great for the team to get that win,” Purcell said. “We are all walking around with a pep in our step.”
Murray State now turns its attention to conference play that begins next month. The Racers were picked to finish No. 10 in the preseason OVC poll. Purcell shared the poll with his team and said the Racers aren’t worried by it.
“It doesn’t mean anything to us because the bottom line is who is playing in Paducah for the OVC championship,” Purcell said.
The Racers’ next scheduled match is against Tennessee Tech March 15 in Cookeville, Tenn.
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer