Murray State women’s tennis ended the fall season by winning nearly 80 percent of its matches at the Red Wolf Invitational hosted by Arkansas State last weekend.
The Red Wolf Invitational in Jonesboro, Ark., hosted rival teams from around the region including Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky and UT Martin.
The Racers walked away with a winning record of 26-7 in singles and doubles matches in the tournament.
“We tried a bunch of different strategies this weekend,” said Interim Head Coach Jorge Caetano. “We mixed it up just to see how things would go and it all went very well. We dominated the doubles.”
Caetano said the weekend was a preview of the tennis preparation for the spring. The team is trying to eliminate weak spots and win against the best teams in the spring.
“This whole semester we have been focusing on taking control of the match,” Caetano said. “Whether we win or lose, we are taking responsibility. When we play, we aren’t waiting for the other teams to give us points. We are going out and taking the game to them. We have been doing that all spring and it showed up this weekend.”
A recent change effective for the spring 2015 season in NCAA tennis is the elimination of advantage scoring when a game is knotted in deuce of 40-40. This means that when the game is on the line there are no second chances for the athletes.
If the game is tied at 40-all, the next point wins. This rule is going into effect to reduce the length of matches, but it also is being implemented to increase the excitement of the matches.
The NCAA rule change causes increased pressure on the athletes. However, Murray State’s Andrea Eskauriatza, who didn’t lose a single set at Red Wolf Invitational, said this rule change is not going to be an issue.
She said the team is preparing for the change.
“We played the same tournament last year and we dominated a lot more this year,” Eskauriatza said. “We had a lot more wins overall as a team and it showed on the court. Last year we were not as aggressive as we needed to be, but right now everyone is playing better. Jorge has been working closely with us to prepare us for the spring and we are a lot better team as a whole.”
Nancy Karaky, freshman from Baabdath, Lebanon, took the championship in her match at the Red Wolf Invitational. Karaky said the team hopes to repeat its success as OVC champions.
“We all played very well,” Karaky said. “The results are there in the singles and the doubles. This is my first year here and it has already been a very good experience. The pressure is definitely there, but we all feel confident.”
With the fall matches over, the athletes get a mental break before the busy spring schedule, but the training does not stop. The athletes will follow strict training schedules in the gym and on the tennis court during Winter Break.
University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., will host women’s tennis Jan. 24., which is 12 days after the first day of classes.
Caetano said he expects Tennessee to be one of the toughest matches of the season.
“Everyone is ready for the spring,” Caetano said. “Everyone is feeling really good. We have eight good girls that can play well. There is going to be good competition, but we have been working hard so we can show up in the spring and compete. From what I’ve seen this fall, we are on the right track to have a successful spring and go for the OVC title.”
Story by Alex McLaughlin, Contributing writer