After a hard-fought doubles competition, women’s tennis served up another victory Saturday on the road against Evansville.
Coming off a 1-1 performance the previous week, the Racers continued to improve their team chemistry, which carried into the match against the Purple Aces.
“We had a long conversation after the (Southern Illinois) match about a lot of things and I didn’t know how it would translate to this week,” Head Coach Olga Elkin said. “It couldn’t have gone over any better than it did against Evansville.”
One of the biggest improvements of the week came from sophomore Megan Blue who won both matches against Evansville. After a loss against Central Arkansas on Feb. 15, Elkin sat down with Blue and talked about improvement.
“We had a long conversation after that match and I think it made her realize that what I am looking for is improvement that will help us through this year,” Elkin said.
While the Racers won the match against Central Arkansas 6-1, Blue was the loss that kept the Racers from the sweep, and Elkin said things might have gotten worse if she hadn’t talked to Blue.
“Megan looked more at the wins and the losses and that is not important to me,” Elkin said. “To me it is about how she plays and how she competes and that we learn and get better with every match.”
Blue said the talk with the coach helped change her attitude.
“That conversation really made me open my eyes because I had two losses in a row,” Blue said. “I was more focused on the fact that I was failing the team because I wasn’t getting my win.”
Blue’s contribution to the team this year is different from her teammates’. While the other Murray State players are aggressive on the court, Blue plays longer points. She said she didn’t realize her play was so different until she came from Canada to Murray State.
“When I came to college in the U.S. I noticed that girls don’t like long rallies, and that is where I can get under the skin of girls that are super aggressive,” Blue said. “Make five or six good deep balls in a row, they are just going to want to smack a winner and not stay out there.”
Though Blue’s style of play was the initial advantage, it was her coach’s message that finally changed how she approached every point and pushed her to finding victory.
“This year is all about improving each shot and not necessarily having to get a win,” Blue said. “I was playing not to lose instead of playing to win and that has been a big change for me this year. I was getting upset because I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, but I’m realizing now that it is all a process.”
That process made its way onto the court for Blue and the Racers as they defeated Evansville for the first time in four years.
All three doubles teams found themselves tied at 5-5 in the opening of the competition. With the opening point on the line, the Racers grabbed momentum. The duo of sophomore Erin Patton and junior Andrea Eskauriatza took their match 8-6 and were followed up by the duo of senior Carla Suga and Blue.
“We took the doubles point and it was huge against a team like Evansville, because they won’t go away if they have momentum,” Elkin said.
With momentum on the side of the Racers, Murray State took five of the six singles matches to defeat the Purple Aces. While the play contributed to the team’s victory, Blue said it was something else that helped her and the team pull out the match.
“After that talk it clicked that it was all about the team and that is what helped us against Evansville,” she said.
Bothe the men’s and women’s teams play Western Kentucky Sunday at Kenlake State Park.
Story by Tom Via, staff writer