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Tennis Govs No. 2 seed in upcoming OVC Tournament
Posted By Clarksville Online News Staff On Monday, April 11, 2011 @ 11:59 pm In Sports | No Comments
APSU Men’s Tennis
Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University men’s tennis team has earned a first-round bye in the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tennis Championships as the No. 2 seed. The Govs open tourney play with a 2:00pm, Saturday, match against the winner of No. 3 Tennessee Tech and #6 Murray State, at Larry J. Heflin Tennis Center in Paducah, KY.
Regular-season champion Eastern Kentucky is the top seed, playing the winner of No. 4 Jacksonville State and No. 5 Morehead State. The opening matches begin at 10:00am, Friday.
The Govs showed the largest improvement of any OVC team from the coaches’ preseason poll, which had them picked to finish fourth. With one of the league’s youngest teams – comprised of five sophomores and three freshmen – head coach Malik Tabet guided Austin Peay to 13-5 overall record and a 6-1 OVC mark, the only loss coming at EKU.
“It’s always good to have a full team in the beginning of the season,” Tabet said. “We had really good leadership, even though we were young and not expected to win this year. I think our expectations will be a little higher next year when we have a sophomore and junior class.
Much of Austin Peay’s progress can be attributed to its strong doubles play. Last season, doubles was a key weakness, but this year the Govs won the doubles point 15 of 17 times. Sophomores Sean Bailey and Henrique Norbiato won a league-best 13 matches at No. 1 doubles, while freshmen Jasmin Ademovic and Remi Calleja were right behind them with 11 matches. In fact, they were the only OVC doubles teams to reach double-digit wins.
“We worked a lot on doubles,” Tabet said. “There was good chemistry from the get-go with Sean and Henrique. Neither of them are great doubles players, but they play well together and have the chemistry that makes a difference. We also have good chemistry at No. 3 doubles with John (Storie) and Joao (Pagan). Over the past few weeks, they’ve began to understand the concept of how to play as a team.”
Austin Peay has won four-straight matches heading into tournament play. Although doubles has been consistent over the past four matches, the Govs have been steady at the top four singles positions much of the season. Norbiato moved to No. 1 at Middle Tennessee and has won five straight matches. Ademovic also has won five-straight at No. 2. Bailey and Pagan have combined for seven straight wins at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
Both potential quarterfinal opponents – Tennessee Tech and Murray State – have been part of the Govs recent four-match win streak. The Govs defeated Tennessee Tech, 5-2, and downed Murray State by a 6-1 margin. The Golden Eagles dropped their season-finale to Eastern Kentucky, while the Racers lost a 4-3 decision to Morehead State to wrap up their season.
“We have to be ready to play,“ Tabet said. “We’ve played both teams and we know them. We played good tennis against them both and we have to come in ready to do that again, Saturday morning.”
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