October 3, 2016

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The University of Tennessee at Martin tennis team combined for a 28-7 record and five out of the 12 possible flight championships during a commanding performance at the Evansville Metro Collegiate Invitational over the weekend.

The eight Skyhawks accumulated an 18-5 singles record and a 10-2 mark in doubles play. Sarah Candeloro (No. 1 singles, No. 1 doubles) and Jemima Potter (No. 4 singles, No. 1 doubles) each went a perfect 6-0 in the tournament while Olha Burak (No. 7 singles), Burcu Tari (No. 2 doubles) and Hitomi Naito (No. 2 doubles) also earned championships over the two-day event.

Candeloro continued her remarkable early-season performance with her second top singles title of the fall. She dispatched Bellarmine’s Maggie Walroth by a 6-0, 6-3 margin in the first round before knocking off Evansville’s Chieko Yamada, 6-4, 6-3 in the second round. She then emerged victorious after a thrilling 6-3, 6-7 (5), 11-9 bout in the championship against Austin Peay’s Lidia Yanes Garcia.

In the No. 2 singles draw, Asel Jumamukhambetova claimed third place honors after posting a 2-1 record. She defeated North Alabama’s Claudia Arroyo (6-2, 6-3) before falling to Evansville’s eventual flight champion Diana Tkachenko (6-4, 6-0) in the semifinals. She then bounced back strong to take down Kelsey Hambrock of Southern Indiana by a 6-1, 6-0 margin in the third place bracket.

Tari overcame an early round loss to claim the consolation championship in the No. 3 singles draw. She fell in a tight match (6-2, 0-6, 10-8) to Western Kentucky’s Violetta Shatalova before winning each of her next two matches. She defeated Evansville’s Andjela Brguljan (8-6) and Bellarmine’s Ashley Jonathan (6-4, 6-3) to end her singles performance on a high note.

Potter made short work of the No. 4 singles field, starting with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Suzanna Stapler of Belmont. She then overpowered Evansville’s Andrea Pascual-Larrinaga (6-1, 4-6, 10-7) before ousting Western Kentucky’s Cindy Oest by a 6-4, 6-2 margin in the championship.

Andrea Plantada Cortes was responsible for a third-place finish in No. 5 singles. She outlasted Evansville’s Theda Soldatou (4-6, 6-1, 10-8) in her opening matchup before falling to Western Kentucky’s Natalia DeUgarte (6-0, 6-1) in the semifinals. She then won by a walkover due to an injury to an Evansville player in the third-place match.

In the 6A singles draw, Elina Geut was tabbed as the runner-up while Naito split a pair of matches. Geut began with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Claire DeGeorge of North Alabama before posting a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Austin Peay’s Brittney Covington. However, Geut fell in a tough 6-3, 6-3 loss in the 6A finals. Naito downed Bellarmine’s Marissa Kovach by a 6-2, 6-1 margin before dropping a grueling 4-6, 6-0, 10-8 decision to Western Kentucky’s Lisa Friess, who would eventually go on to win the flight.

Burak won the No. 7 singles draw with relative ease, earning a 6-2, 7-6 (2) win over Bellarmine’s Bess Fley in the first round. She then swept North Alabama’s Ali Gean (6-0, 6-0) before putting together a 6-2, 7-5 win over Bellarmine’s Mairin Cotter in the finals.

Candeloro and Potter teamed up to defeat two Ohio Valley Conference teams on its way to the No. 1 doubles flight title. After bouncing Western Kentucky’s Oest/Adreanna Christopoulou in the first round, the Skyhawk tandem defeated Austin Peay’s Garcia/Claudia Yanes Garcia by a 6-3 margin. In the championship showdown against Belmont’s Kendall Warren/Lindsay Whitehead, UT Martin dialed up a 6-0 sweep to give Candeloro and Potter their second flight championships of the tournament.

The Skyhawks’ doubles success kept rolling at No. 2, as Tari and Naito romped through the bracket. The UT Martin pair defeated Western Kentucky’s Elpide Malamou/DeUgarte (6-4), Southern Indiana’s team of Shipman/Hambrock (6-3) and Belmont’s Laura Van Eeckhoudt/Abbie Mather (6-1) on their way to the title.

Jumamukhambetova and Plantada Cortes put on a strong performance in No. 3 doubles, eventually finishing in third place. The Skyhawk duo opened with a 6-1 win against Bellarmine’s Cotter/Kovach before narrowly falling to Cincinnati’s team of Caroline Morton/Anna Philp, 7-5. Jumamukhambetova and Plantada Cortes then ended strong with a victory over Evansville’s team of Brguljan/Daria Pentsova.

Geut and Burak claimed the consolation championship in No. 4 doubles. After a first round 6-4 loss to Cincinnati’s Antonella Bramato/Katya Bure, the Skyhawk tandem reeled off wins against Bellarmine’s Nadia Sabie/Fley (6-0) and Belmont’s Gilley/Crowe (6-3).

The Skyhawks return to the court on Oct. 20-24 when they travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for ITA Regionals.

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