OVC play looms for tennis teams

In its final preparation match before starting conference play, the men’s tennis team traveled to Lexington, Ky., Sunday and extended their losing streak against the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Earlier in the day the Wildcats lost a close match to the University of Tennessee 4-3, but this had them primed for the Racers.

“We ran into a buzz saw,” said Head Coach Mel Purcell. “They had just lost a really close match so they were warmed up and ready to go and they just had this extra level of emotion that they were playing with.”

The Racers (0-9 overall) lost 6-0 in singles matches with only one match being a close call. 

Will True, freshman from Bowling Green, Ky., lost 6-3, 6-4, and was the only Racer to win at least three games in a set.

“I think Will played outstanding,” Purcell said. “He was up against a really good player from Kentucky and he really hung in there so it was great to see him competing.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams will open up OVC play in their next matches.

The women’s team (6-2) will play Southeast Missouri State 2 p.m. Friday at home on the Bennie Purcell  Tennis Courts.

It will be their first match since Feb. 15 when they beat Southern Illinois 5-2. Their last three matches were canceled because of weather.

The Racers are the OVC Champions and hope to keep their reign.

“It’s a little bit of pressure,” said Head Coach Jorge Caetano. “I told the girls the hardest thing is staying (in the top spot) and winning it again because every match we play they are going to be ready to take us out. Everyone wants to beat you once you are the best team.”

The men will open conference play against Austin Peay State Tuesday at  the Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts. The time is to be decided at a later date.

Doubles play remains a focal point for the teams. Doubles points are the first points earned in each competition and often can set the tone for the rest of the matches.

“We’ve really just got to keep working on our doubles teams,” Purcell said. “Most of these guys didn’t play any doubles before they got here so it’s really the hardest thing that any college coach at any level in tennis has to teach.”

Regardless of their winless record now, the men’s team can compete for the OVC title by winning its conference matches.

“It doesn’t matter what our record is up to this point,” Purcell said. “We start with a clean slate in conference so we just need to start stringing some matches together.”

Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer