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APSU Women’s Tennis comes from behind to defeat Murray State, move on to OVC Championship match

APSU Women's TennisEvansville, IN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s tennis team mounted an improbable comeback in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship semifinals, erasing a 3-1 deficit against Murray State to punch its fourth-straight trip to the title match, Saturday, at the Wesselman Tennis Center. 

Similar to its come-from-behind victory against Southeast Missouri in last season’s championship match, Austin Peay (11-6, 6-1 OVC) fell behind early after dropping the doubles point for just the second time in its last 12 matches. 


2021-22 APSU Women's Tennis - Jana Leder. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Senior Danielle Morris and redshirt sophomore Jana Leder’s gave the Governors the early doubles advantage with their seventh win of the season. The duo defeated the Racers’ tandem of Annika Pschorr and Sarah Bureau, 6-1, and have won two of their last three matches. 

The Racers answered quickly, defeating APSU’s All-OVC Doubles Team pairing of Denise Torrealba and Honoka Nakanishi, before edging past Aleks Topalovic and Yu-Hua Cheng in the tiebreaker on court three.

2021-22 APSU Women's Tennis - Danielle Morris. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Trailing early, Morris’ match was the first to go final, as her opponent retired late in the first set as Morris led 5-0. The win is Morris’ ninth of the season and improves to the Second Team All-OVC selection 9-1 in the spring, 14-2 on the season and 4-1 from the No. 4 position.

Despite APSU evening the score at one, the Racers answered back with wins on the No. 1 and No. 3 courts against a pair of the Govs’ top singles players in Torrealba and Paladini-Jennings. 

2021-22 APSU Women's Tennis - Aleks Topalovic. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Austin Peay State University trailed 3-1 following Paladini-Jennings’ loss and needed to win all three remaining matches to secure the victory.

At the point of the score turning to 3-1 in the Racers’ favor, each of the remaining matches were in their third set with Leder and Topalovic leading, 3-2, and Cheng leading, 4-2.

2021-22 APSU Women's Tennis - Yu-Hua Cheng. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)Leder’s match was the first of the three to go final, as the Remchingen, Germany native came back after dropping her first set, 6-1, to win the following two, 6-0, 6-3 and trim the deficit to one.

Moments after Leder’s victory on the No. 2 court, Topalovic earned a crucial victory at the No. 5 position, defeating MSU’s Gabrielle Geolier, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to even the match at three and shift all the attention to the freshman, Cheng. 

Cheng entered Saturday’s semifinal match as the only Gov without a conference loss, as this did not change for New Taipei City, Taiwan native following her match on the No. 6 singles court.
 
After winning her first set, 6-0, Cheng dropped the second, 6-3. She was able to maintain a narrow advantage midway through the third set in which she led, 4-3, before winning two-straight games before securing the improbable comeback and earning her the most notable of her 11 singles victories this spring. 

Next Up For APSU Women’s Tennis

With the victory, the Austin Peay State University women’s tennis team advances to the OVC Championship match for the fourth-straight season and look to claim their third tournament title in as many years.

The Governors’ match against the Redhawks is on Sunday at the Wesselman Tennis Center. Match begins at 10:00am.

Results vs. Racers 

Doubles

  1. Stasya Sharapova / Natalie Slezakova (MSU) def. Denise Torrealba / Honoka Nakanishi (APSU), 6-3
  2. Jana Leder / Danielle Morris (APSU) def. Annika Pschorr / Sarah Bureau (MSU), 6-1
  3. Jordina Font / Paola Campigotto (MSU) def. Aleks Topalovic / Yu-Hua Cheng (APSU), 7-6 (7-2)

Order of Finish: 2, 1, 3*


Singles

  1. Stasya Sharapova (MSU) def. Denise Torrealba (APSU), 6-3, 6-4
  2. Jana Leder (APSU) def. Sarah Bureau (MSU) 1-6, 6-0, 6-3
  3. Annika Pschorr (MSU) def. Martina Paladini-Jennings (APSU), 6-3, 7-5
  4. Danielle Morris (APSU) def. Natalie Slezakova (MSU), 5-0, ret.
  5. Aleks Topalovic (APSU) def. Gabrielle Geolier (MSU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
  6. Yu-Hua Cheng (APSU) def. Jordina Font (MSU), 6-0, 3-6, 6-3

Order of Finish: 4, 1, 3, 2, 5, 6*


Coach’s Corner

Austin Peay head coach, Ross Brown

On the win… “We have been here a number of times. College tennis matches tend to come down to the first and last 30 minutes. You have to project a strong image and play the points. It’s about handling the pressure late. It’s tough for the team that is out there thinking about winning because it is about what is happening in that moment. We played good tennis today. That being said, we should have won the doubles point. Anytime you win, 4-3, you’re lucky. 

On his associate and assistant coaches… “To be able to be on the court here with [associate head coach] Maria Sorbello Morrison and [volunteer assistant coach] Jacob Lorino, I had a lot of confidence. I can be on a court and focus on what I am doing, knowing that everything is being taken care of on the other end. That is a big relief for me and an advantage for us as well.”

On Yu-Hua Cheng “She has been doing an outstanding job. She has come a long way. Her body language and overall image to start was not good. She has made a lot of effort and I could not be prouder and more pleased of her.”

About the Southeast Missouri Redhawks

2022 Record: 14-6 (5-2 OVC)
Notable Players: Romana Tarajova, Daniela Hlacikova.

Southeast Missouri was one of two teams with a pair of First Team All-OVC players, Austin Peay being the other. The 2021 OVC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year, Tarajova garners an 8-9 singles record while exclusively playing the No. 1 position. She also was named to the All-OVC Doubles Team alongside doubles partner, Ksenia Shikanova.
 
The 2021 Co-OVC Freshman of the Year – and honor shared with Leder – Hlacikova has won 12 singles matches this season, nine of which have come from the No. 2 position. She also holds a 12-4 doubles record while exclusively playing the No. 2 position. 

2021 Record: 15-5 (8-1 OVC)

2021 Season Result: After winning the OVC regular season title in 2021, Southeast Missouri defeated No. 4 Jacksonville State, 4-1, and entered the OVC Championship match against Austin Peay on an eight-match conference winning streak. 

The Redhawks led 3-1 in the contest after claiming the doubles and two of the first three singles points. The Govs, however, came back to claim their second-straight championship and end SEMO’s season and title sweep hopes.

Returners/Newcomers: 8/1
All-Time Series (Since 1992): 18-13 APSU

Last Meeting: Austin Peay earned a 5-2 victory against Southeast Missouri, on April 16th, to reclaim first place in the OVC standings. The Govs earned a pair of convincing doubles victories to claim the match’s first point, as Torrealba and Nakanishi won, 6-3, from the No. 1 position followed by Topalovic and Cheng’s, 6-2, win on court three.

The Govs held off a late comeback attempt by the Redhawks in singles, with Topalovic and Cheng winning in straight sets from the No. 5 and No. 6 positions, respectively. Paladini-Jennings clinched the victory for the Govs on the No. 3 court, while Torrealba knocked off SEMO’s Romana Tarajova in three sets to conclude the contest.


Follow the APSU Govs

For news and updates ahead of the OVC Women’s Tennis Championship, follow the women’s tennis team on Twitter (@GovsWTN), Instagram (@GovsTennis), and Facebook (Austin Peay Tennis).

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