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EKU tops Govs in OVC Tennis Championship

 

APSU Men’s Tennis

Austin Peay State University GovernorsPaducah, KY – Experience outlasted youth in Sunday’s Ohio Valley Conference Tennis Championship match as Austin Peay State University men’s tennis team dropped a 4-1 match to Eastern Kentucky.

As regular-season champions, the Colonels (21-4) entered the tournament as the outright favorite, sporting an undefeated league record and a team comprised of juniors and seniors. In fact, the 2011 title was the second-straight for EKU and, like they did last season, the Colonels will represent the OVC in the NCAA Tennis Championships.

APSU Men's Tennis. (Austin Peay Sports Information)

APSU Men's Tennis. (Austin Peay Sports Information)

“When you have a group of freshmen and sophomores like we do, it’s encouraging to see them fight,” head coach Malik Tabet said. “Experience plays a lot, especially when it’s the last match of the tournament. I take my hat off to EKU. They had the experience, they had the toughness and they knew how to handle the tough situations.”

The Govs (14-6) dropped the doubles point despite winning a terrific match at No. 3. Sophomore John Storie and freshman Joao Pagan rolled to an 8-1 win, but not before sophomores Henrique Norbiato and Sean Bailey dropped the No. 1 doubles match with the same score.

That left the deciding match at No. 2 where two APSU freshmen – Remi Calleja and Jasmin Ademovic – battled a pair of EKU juniors – Niklas Schroeder and Philip Janz. The Govs played it close until the Colonels were able to rally down the stretch en route to an 8-4 win.

Sean BaileySingles play was just a tough for Austin Peay. Bailey earned the Govs lone point with a straight-set win at No. 3 – picking up his second singles win in the tournament. Outside of his match, the Govs found themselves under fire at every other position.

“It was really a battle,” Tabet said. “I’m proud of these guys because they showed up and represented our team in the best way possible. We just came up short in doubles and then again in singles.”

Norbiato lost at No. 1 singles to OVC Player of the Year Alex Das, while Ademovic lost to All-OVC pick Hugo Klientovsky at No. 2. With those matches in EKU’s pocket, the Govs were in third sets with Pagan at No. 4, Calleja at No. 5 and Storie at No. 6.

John StorieThe deciding match ended up coming from at No. 5 where EKU junior Parul Verma dropped Calleja with a 6-0 third-set win.

Overall, the championship match capped an outstanding season for Austin Peay men’s tennis team. Just two years ago, the Govs failed to make the tournament field and last year they advanced to the semifinals. Tabet already is looking to the future.

“We’re going to come back next year with some more experience, but the same fire,” Tabet said. “I was very happy with the way the guys came out and wanted to play tough. Sure enough, they did, but that’s the way it goes.”


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