Tennis opens conference play on the road

Story by Blake Sandlin, Staff writer

Murray State’s tennis team will head to Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday for two matches in two days.

The Racers, who currently sit at 2-6, will matchup with Belmont (2-9) in their first conference meeting of the season. Although the Racers claimed a 4-3 win against the Bruins last season, Head Coach Jorge Caetano said a younger Racer roster will make the match more difficult.

“We won last year, but we have four different girls and Belmont pretty much kept the same team and brought one good player too, so it should be a really close match,” Caetano said.

Murray State will be faced with a Belmont team that has an abundance of senior leadership on their 10-player roster.

“I feel like Belmont is much more experienced than us,” Caetano said. “They have seven seniors in the lineup, and we have four freshman, so that’s a big difference.”

Caetano said his team’s results in the matches over the weekend will depend on the Racers’ performance in doubles.

“We know if we play good doubles, things tend to go our way in the singles,” Caetano said.

On Saturday, the Racers will be tested against Tennessee State (6-0), a team that Caetano said is on the up and up.

“They’re awesome, much improved,” Caetano said. “They’ve been improving every single year.”

As for the Racers’ game plan going into Saturday’s match against the Tigers, Caetano said nothing will change.

“It’s the same,” Caetano said. “We’re going to be there, we’re going to go there to beat them, to compete. I think every single one of our girls can win their match. We need that kind of confidence, and that’s the goal for the weekend.”

Murray State is nursing a three-game losing streak after falling to East Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Saint Louis University. Despite their performances in the past matches, Caetano said he isn’t worried.

“I think that’s kind of why we try and talk with each other,” Caetano said. “Just making sure they don’t look at just the overall record, whatever it is. We’ve played very good teams.”

The Racers will have the week to prepare for a busy schedule that has them competing in six matches in a matter of eight days.

Caetano said he plans to use the week to make sure his players are as healthy and rested as possible.

“We’ve been struggling a lot this year with injuries, so any time off we can get is actually really helpful for us,” Caetano said. “So, I think it’s going to be good for us just to make sure everyone is 100 percent, or close to percent, for the very first weekend.”

The team’s road trip kicks off with Belmont at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 17 at the Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville, Tennessee.