Despite an undefeated weekend by sophomore Erin Patton, women’s tennis split its matches against Central Arkansas and Southern Illinois.
Patton went 4-0 in her doubles matches, competing in doubles and at No. 6 in singles competition.
“It was exciting to win both my doubles and singles matches,” Patton said.
Typically matches can rest on the shoulders of the individual at the No. 6 spot which means Patton is relied on in some of the most stressful situations.
“It is probably the toughest spot to play,” Head Coach Olga Elkin said. “Especially in the situations where there are only four courts and it could be 3-3.”
Playing at the final spot, Patton has had to change her style to win matches against opponents that don’t suit her speed.
“It is just a different game because typically a player isn’t that strong and wants to play a slower game,” Patton said. “I like to be the aggressive one and the player that dictates how the match is played.”
This season Patton has been one of the most consistent players for Murray State, sporting a 10-5 record in singles matches.
Along with the singles record, Patton and junior Andrea Eskauriatza are 8-1 when paired together for doubles matches.
In her match against Central Arkansas, Patton found herself tied after two sets.
She gained an early advantage in the tiebreaker and faced two match points but couldn’t convert, leaving the match tied at 9-9.
“She had a really good serve and I had to focus on each point one by one,” Patton said. “It was tied but I settled down and was able to close her out with the final two points.”
Murray State controlled the match, winning the doubles point with all three teams earning victories.
“The doubles point is very important because you have to start strong,” Elkin said. “We have talked a lot about starting strong, getting that first point, and we did that and need to continue to do that.”
With the Racers earning the 6-1 victory against Central Arkansas, Elkin said being the only loss can be difficult for some players.
Sophomore Megan Blue lost against Central Arkansas in a close three-set match.
“It was a tough loss for Megan and we talked with her on how to fix it,” Elkin said.
Blue rebounded the next day at SIU and grinded out a 7-5, 7-5.
Against SIU, Elkins said the Racers faced adversity for the first time this season and fell in a close 4-3 match.
“We faced some things that we hadn’t all year,” Elkin said. “With such a young team it was great to see them come together.”
In the doubles match the Racers and Salukis were tied at 1-1 and relied on the freshmen Tchakarova sisters to win the point. In the first game of the match Verginie suffered an injury close to the net.
“She kept her composure and I was really proud of her for that,” Elkin said. “A lot of people there would have been in tears.”
The duo fell behind early in the match and rallied late, but ultimately lost 8-6.
While the Racers lost the overall match and fell to 3-3 on the season, Elkin said this loss could help the team later in the season.
“We gained more from this loss than we possibly could (not playing),” Elkin said. “Something clicked, which is what we have been waiting for.”
Patton said the team became closer despite the loss to SIU.
“As a team we learned how to build each other up and support each other,” Patton said.
The Racers return to the court against Evansville at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer