Top-Seeded Golden Eagles open OVC tournament play Saturday


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech tennis team defended its 2012 Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title in impressive fashion by going a perfect 9-0 in league play this season. The Golden Eagles were rewarded with the No. 1 seed of the conference tournament, which is being held in Paducah, Ky. April 19-21.

Last season, the Golden Eagles went 8-0 in conference and earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament. They opened tournament play against Jacksonville State, winning the match on the last set when then sophomore Vasily Eremeev defeated Felipe Wenzel to give TTU the 4-3 advantage. This slated a championship match against a very good Eastern Kentucky team, who went on to defeat Tennessee Tech 4-1 and win the OVC crown.

This season, the Golden Eagles find themselves in similar shoes: a perfect record in the regular-season, and entering the tournament as the top seed. Tech senior, and 2013 OVC Player of the Year, Syrym Abdukhailikov went 9-0 in league play and 14-2 overall at the No. 1 singles spot. The senior from Almaty, Kazakhstan hasn't lost a singles match since March 20. He teamed up with sophomore Alejandro Augusto to post a 9-0 league mark and a 10-6 overall record at the No. 1 doubles spot. Abdukhailikov, a first-team All-OVC selection, is the eighth Golden Eagle to win this award and the first since Dan O'Brien won the honor in 2009.

Tech earned a first-round bye and will face either Jacksonville State or Belmont on Saturday at 2 pm. Tech defeated Belmont on March 17 in Cookeville, 5-2, and later defeated the Gamecocks 4-3 on April 3, also at home. 

Tech is looking to win its first OVC Tournament since 2006. 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.



Helfin Tennis center in Paducah, Ky.

WOMEN'S SCHEDULE
 
First Round – Friday, April 19
Match 1 - #6 Belmont 4, #3 Murray State 3
Match 2 - #4 Eastern Illinois 4, #5 Austin Peay 0
 
Semifinals – Saturday, April 20
Match 3 - #2 Jacksonville State vs. #6 Austin Peay – 10 a.m.
Match 4 - #1 Eastern Kentucky vs. #4 Eastern Illinois – 10 a.m.
 
Championship – Sunday, April 21
Match 5 – Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner – 10 a.m.
 
MEN'S SCHEDULE
 
First Round - Friday, April 19
Match 1 - #3 Eastern Kentucky vs. #6 Morehead State – 2 p.m
Match 2 - #4 Jacksonville State vs. #5 Belmont – 2 p.m
 
Semifinals – Saturday, April 20
Match 3 - #2 Austin Peay vs. Match 1 winner – 2 p.m.
Match 4 - #1 Tennessee Tech vs. Match 2 winner – 2 p.m
 
Championship – Sunday, April 21
Match 5 – Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner – 2 p.m.