Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
The No. 6 seeded Murray State’s women’s tennis team attempted to pull off the upset against No. 3 Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the OVC tournament on Friday.
Although they claimed the doubles point, the Racers were unable to rally in their singles matches, inevitably falling 4-2. The defeat comes just a week after Murray State defeated the Colonels 4-3 in their final regular season match of the year.
Head Coach Jorge Caetano said that his team brought their best effort, but in the end they were unable to effectuate their scheme.
“[Eastern Kentucky] played a really good match,” Caetano said. “Sometimes you’ve got to understand when an opponent plays just better than you, and that’s what happened today. Every single one of the girls fought really hard and the strategy was perfect, we just could not execute as we did last weekend and that’s the biggest thing when you have such a young team.”
In doubles, the pair of Alina Schibol, senior from Hamburg, Germany, and Claire Chang, freshman from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, defeated the Colonel’s Kristina Lagoda, freshman from Moscow, Russia, and Viktorija Demcenkova, sophomore from Riga, Latvia, 6-2 to claim the Racers’ first doubles victory.
Sara Bjork, freshman from Malmo, Sweden, and Jeanne Masson, sophomore from Dinard, France, pitched in with a 6-3 doubles victory of their own against Sagung Putri Dwinta, junior from Bali, Indonesia, and Marina Marti Hernanz, senior from Madrid, Spain, to help the team secure the doubles point.
Murray State was unable to carry their momentum over to singles however, dropping four matches against the Colonels.
The single bright spot for the Racers in singles came from Schibol, who claimed the Racers’ only singles victory with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Eastern Kentucky’s Marguax Lacroix, sophomore from Liers, Belgium.
Schibol’s victory on Friday was her last in a Racer uniform, capping a two year career as a Racer. She finished with an overall record of 22-26 in singles in her career. Caetano said Schibol’s performance set a standard for the rest of the team to live up to.
“I told her and the rest of the team she did something really special,” Caetano said. “Even though we could not win with her on the team, she planted that one seed and these girls know what they have to do; they know the work ethic, they know the way we have to be on the court.”
The tournament, which is being held in Nashville, Tennessee, will hold the semifinals tomorrow morning where the Colonels will face UT Martin.
The Racers ended their season with a 12-17 record to go with a 4-5 conference record. Despite ups and downs this season, Caetano said his young Racer core will be prepared for the obstacles they will face next season.
“This group has so much potential,” Caetano said. “We’re getting two really good freshman next year too. So the potential is there, they know they can compete against the best in our conference and they’re going to be ready for next year, for sure.”