OVC TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE LINE DURING SENIOR WEEKEND AT UT MARTIN
April 12, 2017
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin tennis team will look to clinch its second straight Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship this weekend when it hosts the SIUE Cougars on Friday, April 14 and the Eastern Illinois Panthers on Saturday, April 15. First serve at Skyhawk Varsity Courts is set for 2 p.m. on both days.
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, UT Martin and SIUE are tied atop the OVC standings at 7-0. The Skyhawks have won 11 straight matches en route to an 11-3 overall record while SIUE is undefeated on the season, boasting a 17-0 record. Eastern Illinois enters the weekend at 12-7 overall with a 4-3 OVC mark.
These two matches will serve as rematches of last year’s OVC Tournament, as the Skyhawks defeated Eastern Illinois by a 4-3 margin in the league semifinals before falling 4-1 to SIUE in the title match.
This weekend will also mark the final home matches in the careers of UT Martin seniors Sarah Candeloro, Hitomi Naito and Burcu Tari. That trio is undisputedly the best class in program history, combining for six All-OVC accolades, an OVC Freshman of the Year award, eight mentions on the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll and two OVC Medals of Honor (4.0 GPA). The three will be honored with a pregame “Senior Day” ceremony before Saturday’s match.
Candeloro, who was named adidas OVC Player of the Week for the third time in her career earlier today, has generated a 157-77 career combo record – including a 40-21 mark against OVC opposition. The Dover, Del. native’s 83 singles wins rank third all-time while she also ranks in the top-five with 74 doubles victories.
A native of Tokyo, Japan, Naito boasts a 135-80 combined record, which includes a 43-17 OVC slate. Her 72 doubles wins are tied for seventh all-time while her 135 combined victories rank ninth all-time. In singles play, she has dialed up a 24-7 record against OVC foes.
Tari will go down as one of the winningest Skyhawks of all-time, as her 163 combined wins (against just 69 losses) rank third in school history. Her 84 singles victories are the second-most in program history while her 79 doubles wins rank fourth all-time. The Istanbul, Turkey native is 49-16 all-time in OVC play.
SIUE is coming off a 5-2 win against Austin Peay and a 4-3 victory over Murray State last weekend. Tiffany Hollebeck has accumulated a team-best 15-2 singles record this spring while Lexi Aranda (13-2 singles) and Mia Frogner (13-4 singles) were each named to the Preseason All-OVC team. In doubles, the Cougars are led by the No. 1 duo of Frogner and Hollebeck – who are a perfect 14-0 so far in 2017.
Eastern Illinois swept Murray State by a 7-0 margin before falling 4-3 to Austin Peay last weekend. Kelly Iden was named Preseason All-OVC and is tied with Stella Cliffe for the team lead with 13 singles wins. The Panthers are also paced by Preseason All-OVC honoree Grace Summers (12-4 singles) and Emily Pugachevsky (12-2 singles, 6-0 OVC). The doubles teams of Cliffe/Iden (No. 1) and Summers/Kamile Stadalninkaite (No. 2) each have claimed 10 wins so far this spring.