The Tech men’s tennis team split their matches last weekend in Ohio Valley Conference play and finished in third place for the regular season.In a match interrupted by inclement weather, Eastern Kentucky University defeated the Golden Eagles, 4-3, on April 10 in Cookeville, Tenn. Tech rebounded against Tennessee State University on April 11 with a score of 7-0 in Nashville, Tenn.
“The weather didn’t play that big of role,” said first-year head coach Dan Silverstein about the match on April 10.
The Golden Eagles began their match against EKU outside, but severe storms forced the match to move indoors at Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
The Colonels jumped to an early lead by winning the doubles point. EKU’s Niklas Schroeder and Parul Verma defeated Alex Chen and Mario Gutierrez, 8-5, then the Colonel’s Mel Segota and Carlos Valdenebro outlasted Justin Kirstein and Oscar Pachon, 8-4.
In singles, Kirstein rebuffed the Colonel’s Schroeder, 6-4, 6-3. Then, Dean O’Brien rebuked EKU’s Alex Das Izquierdo, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5. Tech won a third singles point when Pachon prevailed over EKU’s Verma, 6-4, 7-5.
The Golden Eagles, however, failed to pull out a victory against EKU, the OVC regular season champions, losing 4-3.
“They won that big doubles point,” Silverstein said. “We were up on four of the singles courts, but could not pull out the win.”
Tech earned a victory in its final regular season match the next day against TSU. The Golden Eagles won all the match-ups in straight sets. Winners included O’Brien, Josh Girling, Chen, Kirstein, Pachon, and James Crawford.
Tech finished the regular season with an 11-7 overall record and 6-2 record in OVC play, qualifying the team for the OVC Championship, April 17-19 held at EKU in Paducah, Ky.
“We wanted to win the regular season,” Silverstein said. “We have the best team and will have to win the Championship one point at a time.
“We are getting back to basics and will force the other teams to beat us.”
Two Golden Eagles, O’Brien and Kirstein, finished the regular season in the OVC undefeated, making them strong candidates for the OVC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
“Both of them played a major role in our success this year,” said Silverstein.
The Golden Eagles ranked third with EKU, the host, and Jacksonville State University ahead of Tech. Only the first and second teams earned byes for the quarter-finals, so Tech will play Eastern Illinois University in the first round, a team the Golden Eagles defeated 7-0.
“We played EIU less than a week ago, but they will be a much more difficult opponent this time around,” said Silverstein.
Tech opens the tournament at 2 p.m. on April 17. If the Golden Eagles win, they will play JSU at 2 p.m. the following day in the semi-finals. The championship match will be held at 2 p.m. on April 19.