Top-seeded Tech's bid for OVC Tourney championship begins Saturday

Justin Kirstein (photo by Rob Schabert)

Click here for the Official OVC Tennis Tournament web page

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Winning the regular season league title with a perfect 8-0 record has given the Tennessee Tech tennis team the top seed in this weekend's Ohio Valley Conference tournament at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville.

Now, to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time 2006, the Golden Eagles need to sweep a couple more victories beginning in the semifinals Saturday morning. Coach Kenny Doyle's team will face either Morehead State or Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the winner moving into Sunday's championship match, also set for 10 a.m.

The tournament winner earns the league's automatic entry into the NCAA field.

The Tennis Championship tournament returns to Nashville for the first time since 2008 this season. The event will once again be held at the Centennial Tennis Center (click here to get directions) after being held in Paducah, Ky. each of the past three years.

The men's championship is being held for the 64th time this year (it first was in 1949) while the women's championship is being contested for the 36th time (it was first held in 1977).

The 2012 title was Tech's first since goin 9-0 in the league in 2008. That year, coach Barry Lewis' team was tripped up in the OVC Tournament, 4-3, by Jacksonville State. Tech also fell in the OVC Tourney in 2007 after sharing the regular season title, that time by Samford.

The last time Tech claimed the OVC Tournament title was in 2006 following a 9-0 regular season run. In that tournament, coach Randy Smith's team beat UT Martin, 4-0, and catured a 4-3 win over Samford in the title match to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Syrym Abdukhalikov, a junior from Kazakhstan, leads the Golden Eagles while anchoring the lineup in the No. 1 position. He is 14-11 overall this season in singles play, going 9-7 in dual matches including a 5-2 record against OVC foes. His doubles partner in the No. 1 slot, senior Alex Chen from Uzbekistan, fills the No. 2 singles position. Chen went 4-3 in singles matches in the OVC this season.

Tech's No 3 singles entry, freshman Alejandro Augusto from Spain, had a huge impact on the team in his first semester. He went 8-0 in OVC singles matches, and enters the OVC tourney with an eight-match winning streak.

Another Golden Eagle with an unblemished OVC record, senior Justin Kirstein from South Africa, was 8-0 while filling the No. 5 spot. Kirstein and Augusto teamed up to go 7-0 in OVC doubles contests.

Artem Tarasov from Uzbekistan, another first-semester freshman, plays in the No. 4 singles role while Vasily Eremeev, a sophomore from Russia, is in the No. 6 position. The pair also had much success against OVC foes, going 7-1.

2012 OVC TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Centennial Sportsplex - Nashville, Tenn.

MEN

FIRST ROUND – FRIDAY, APRIL 20
Match 1 - #3 Eastern Kentucky vs. #6 Murray State  – 10 a.m.
Match 2 - #4 Jacksonville State vs. #5 Morehead State – 10 a.m.

SEMIFINALS – SATURDAY, APRIL 21
Match 3 - #2 Austin Peay vs. Match 1 winner – 10 a.m
Match 4 - #1 Tennessee Tech vs. Match 2 winner – 10 a.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP – SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Match 5 – Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner – 10 a.m.

WOMEN

FIRST ROUND – FRIDAY, APRIL 20
Match 1 - #3 Murray State vs. #6 Morehead State – 2 p.m.
Match 2 - #4 Austin Peay vs. #5 Eastern Illinois – 2 p.m.

SEMIFINALS – SATURDAY, APRIL 21
Match 3 - #2 UT Martin  vs. Match 1 winner – 2 p.m.
Match 4 - #1 Eastern Kentucky  vs. Match 2 winner – 2 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP – SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Match 5 – Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner – 2 p.m.

* - OVC Match
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