Redhawk tennis trumps Tennessee State through adversity in OVC play
The Southeast tennis team got back on track in Ohio Valley Conference play with a 4-3 win over Tennessee State in Nashville on Friday March 23.
The Redhawks, who have been hampered by injuries are 4-7 overall, and 1-1 in the OVC, after a 6-1 loss at home to Eastern Kentucky.
Third-year head coach Mary Beth Gunn hopes to build on last year's success, when the Redhawks finished the season 13-8. It was a 12-win improvement on her first year at Southeast, when the Redhawks went 1-19. Gunn remains upbeat about her team despite their slow start.
“We have really struggled with injuries at times this season, and keeping people healthy. We have really done quite well given our situation,” Gunn said. “Once we have everybody healthy we are a really strong team.
Even though conference play is important, Gunn said her team isn’t only focused on winning or losing.
“We are always focused on doing the right thing,” Gunn said. “At the end of the day, if we’ve done everything we can do, if we’ve put our best effort in, we’re going to be happy.”
The Redhawks are just underway into OVC play, and Gunn said there are some things that the team will do differently in preparing to win.
“With conference we know some of the players we will be playing against,” Gunn said. “When we know what matchups we’re getting, we will do some things in order to prepare for upcoming matches.”
Sophomore Kseniya Zonova of Kharkiv, Ukraine, said everyone on the team is more focused on competing hard in conference play.
“After every match we have been going back and looking [at what we did wrong] and we say, ‘Well that’s [not] what you’re going to do in conference, right?”” Zonova said.
Zonova, playing in her second season for the Redhawks has a 14-8 record so far this season, and has been playing a lot in the No. 2 singles spot for the Redhawks.
Due to the abundance of injuries the Redhawks have dealt with this season, Gunn said she only had five players for the match against Western Illinois on March 13 as opposed to traditionally six players. Gunn says that she thinks both junior Anais Emelie and junior Isabella Kruppa could emerge as team leaders in OVC play.
Emelie and Zonova both lead the way for the Redhawks on Friday, winning singles matches 6-0/6-1 and 6-2/6-2 respectively.
Sophomore Oleksandra Doroshenko, also from Kharkiv, was also victorious on Friday, propelling her record to a team best 15-8. However, that is not where Doroshenko’s accomplishments end, as the sophomore was named Adidas OVC Co-Female Athlete of the Week on March 21.
“They do a fantastic job of keeping everybody motivated on the court,” Gunn said. “We’re one big family, our biggest goal is to support each other in everything that we do.”
The Redhawks are already 0-1 in the conference after a 6-1 loss to Eastern Kentucky on March 16. However, the Redhawks will have plenty of time to find their stride in conference play as they head to Nashville this weekend to take on Tennessee State on Friday, March 23, and then wake up the next day and take on a strong Belmont team on Saturday, Mar 24.
They will return home to take on Austin Peay on Friday, March 30 at the Redhawks Tennis Complex.