Story by Sarah Combs, Assistant Sports Editor
The Murray State women’s tennis team fell 4-1 to Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the OVC Tournament, finishing with an 11-10 overall record and 6-4 in the conference.
The Racers’ attempt for a three-time championship came to an end after Eastern clinched the early doubles point 1-0 and singles 6-1.
Partners Erin Patton, senior from Memphis, Tennessee, and Haily Morgan, sophomore from Anthem, Arizona, defeated Eastern’s Laura Escamilla and Montalro Perez 6-4 in doubles. Alina Schibol, junior from Hamburg, Germany, and Jeanne Masson from Dinard, France, fell in doubles 6-4 followed by Megan Blue, senior from Ontario, Canada, and Amina Hadzic, sophomore from Esbjerg, Denmark, who fell to Eastern 7-5 and earned the 1-0 lead to enter singles.
An injury from Eastern on the No. 6 court gave Masson and the Racers the only singles point Murray State earned for the day. On Court No. 4, Patton fell to her opponent 6-2, 6-2. No. 1 Blue fell in her match 6-0, 6-4 followed by a double-fault on match point on court No. 2 by Hadzic 6-2, 6-4. No. 5 Schibol and No. 3 Morgan didn’t finish their matches.
“We did what we were supposed to do so we have no regrets,” Head Coach Jorge Caetano said. “I’m feeling good about what they did [this season].”
Blue received her third all conference award and was named All-OVC Second Team at the OVC tennis banquet and played the No. 1 spot for the Racers for the season. Caetano said Blue’s performance at the top spot helped lead the team throughout the season, she stepped up and played a tough position.
“She stepped up for us and played No. 1. I knew it was not going to be an easy year playing No. 1; she did what she was supposed to,” Caetano said. “She was fighting for every single match and every single point.”
With the transitioning freshmen gaining OVC Championship experience, Caetano expects big things from his team next year. All eight players will be from Caetano’s recruiting class. The team has an opportunity to begin a journey of three years to learn together without losing any players. The Racers will lose three seniors and return four sophomores and a transfer student.
“The seniors did a great job for us building the path for these girls now,” Caetano said. “They know what it takes to be successful and this group wants to do it again.”
Caetano plans on focusing on conditioning and making minor changes to the program for next year.