Racers take on OVC Tournament in Nashville Saturday and Sunday
For the second year in a row the Murray State women’s tennis team won the OVC regular season championship. This year they are co-champions with Eastern Kentucky.
On April 11 the Racers (15-3, 9-1) faced Jacksonville State (9-14, 5-5) in the final match of the regular season. With the title on the line, the Racers played at the top of their game and won 7-0.
Before the match, senior Andrea Eskauriatza was honored by Head Coach Jorge Caetano as she prepared to play in her final match at the Bennie Purcell Tennis Courts.
“She did exactly what we expected her to do all year and that was win,” Caetano said. “She is always exciting to watch with the way she plays, sliding around and getting to the ball.”
The Racers jumped on their opponents early and scored the doubles point behind a strong effort from a new team of Nancy Karaky and Verginie Tchakarova who won 8-0. Verginie typically pairs with her twin sister Eleonore Tchakarova, but an injury kept Elenore from competing over the weekend.
“We had to do a little shuffling around with players because we knew Eleonore couldn’t play with her hand,” Caetano said. “So I went with Nancy and even though they’ve never played together before I knew they would be fine because they are very good friends.”
Across all but one court, the Racers got out to quick leads in the singles portion of the match and less than an hour after starting, Verginie had the Racers’ second point with a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Alena Vasileva finished about 10 minutes later with a 6-1, 6-0 win. Eskauriatza and Megan Blue each only dropped two games winning 6-0, 6-2 and 6-2, 6-0 respectively.
Only one match on the day was ever in doubt. Erin Patton went into the day undefeated on the season and despite dropping the first set 4-6, she was able to remain unbeaten after battling back and winning the next set 6-0 and the tiebreaker set 10-7.
“Erin has really played well this year,” Caetano said. “She’s really worked on her confidence and being more aggressive in taking shots.”
The Racers will head to Nashville this weekend as the top seed in the OVC Tournament. Their first match will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Centennial Sportsplex Tennis Center.
“The tournament is so different because there is extra pressure,” Caetano said. “The doubles point will be so much more important because when you win that point you can play a little more relaxed.”
Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer