April 18, 2014

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– The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s tennis team pushed the No. 1 seed Murray State to the brink in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament before ultimately falling 4-2 at the Heflin Tennis Center.

The Skyhawks (9-11, 5-5 OVC) knew facing No. 1 seed Murray State for the second time in a week would be a daunting task in itself. What the Racers didn’t know was that the Skyhawks would not take their appearance in the tournament semifinals for granted.

Heading into the tournament as the No. 5 seed, the Skyhawks accomplished a feat which they had not against the Racers in the season finale just last Sunday. The No. 1 doubles pair of senior Ivon Simic and freshman Sarah Candeloro defeated the formidable twin duo of Eleonore Tchakarova and Verginie Tchakarova with an 8-5 decision.

The Skyhawks then turned to the No. 2 pair of freshmen phenoms Hitomi Naito and Burcu Tari to clinch the doubles points. Not only did the pair pick up the 8-5 victory, they defeated the previously unbeaten pair of Andrea Eskauriatza and Erin Patton to take an early 1-0 advantage.

Murray State (15-5, 9-1 OVC) struck first in singles play as Andrea Eskauriatza defeated Simic 6-1, 6-0 to even the match at 1-1.

The Skyhawks would quickly retaliate by retaking the 2-1 advantage as Candeloro defeated No. 3 opponent Carla Suga with a decisive 6-1, 6-2 match victory.

The Racers would then show why they were the regular season champions through the remainder of the match by picking up three consecutive singles points to win 4-2. Naito snapped her 14 match winning streak as she fell to Eleonore Tchakarova (6-1, 6-1). Jessica Silva (6-1, 6-2) and Katie McCall (6-4, 6-2) would both battle before ultimately falling.

“It’s been a great year as we were a little down when we realized that we had some injuries but they all turned it around,” said UT Martin coach Dennis Taylor. “Everything worked about as storybook as you could get it. Everyone won nearly every match that they should have. We knew that today was going to be a tough day but we got as much out of our girls as we could. The doubles were great and we’ve had great performances in that regard all year long. I am just so proud of our team for the whole year. They have just done great.”

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