With a schedule that featured five ranked opponents, men’s tennis couldn’t overcome a difficult schedule that was intended to prepare them for conference play.
“We had a really difficult schedule this year and I didn’t focus on the results because it was preparing for the team for the OVC,” said Head Coach Mel Purcell. “I felt that the schedule would have made us more competitive in conference play but it didn’t.”
As a team, the Racers won three matches this season including a sixth-straight win over rival Western Kentucky in early April. In conference play, while the Racers only beat Tennessee State, there were some bright spots individually.
Senior Adam Taylor led the team in wins this season with six coming at the No. 1 spot against the toughest competition. Taylor’s highlight of the season happened during senior weekend where he won his final six matches at the Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts.
Taylor teamed up with junior Max McLean in doubles and to earn five wins to lead the team.
“Adam Taylor and Max McLean were our bright spots this year and played well in doubles,” Purcell said. “They had some matches that they were leading but did not finish.”
Behind the upperclassman, freshman David Hess stood out, according to Purcell. Hess finished second on the team in wins with four during his first season with the Racers. Playing primarily at the No. 5 spot, Hess earned experience at two other draws during competitions.
“David improved each match that he played,” Purcell said. “He is still adjusting to Division I tennis but he got stronger and more comfortable as the season went along.”
While there was individual success, one area plagued Murray State all year.
“Doubles are where we struggled this year and it hurt us,” Purcell said.
Outside of Taylor and McLean who stayed paired together all season, five different combinations combined for three wins. The struggles for the opening point of matches caused Purcell to make a final doubles change in late March, but it wasn’t enough.
“Doubles are very important when it comes to the team aspect,” Purcell said. “If you lose the doubles point then it puts pressure on the guys to win four singles matches and you can’t depend on that.”
With the season over, Purcell said that the doubles area will the addressed in the offseason and while he is recruiting.
“I’m going to concentrate on bringing in players that can help us with doubles because that is our weakness right now,” Purcell said. “There isn’t a lot of emphasis on doubles for players and winning that point makes things easier for us.”
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer