PADUCAH, Ky. -- The match -- actually Tennessee Tech's entire
season -- boiled down to one point Friday and junior Alex Chen
proved up to the challenge.
With the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament first round match tied at 3-3, Chen was the last man on the courts and he battled his way to a tough, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Jorge Caetano in the No. 1 singles position to lift the Golden Eagles to a 4-3 victory over the Murray State Racers.
The win advanced coach Kenny Doyle's No. 3 seeded team to the semifinals Saturday against No. 2 seed Austin Peay. The schedule calls for a 2 p.m. start in the outdoor courts at the Lone Oak Tennis Center. However, the schedule and the site could change if the rains persist.
Friday's matches were played indoors at the Rowton Tennis Center, with Tech's match finally wrapping up around 8 p.m.
Tech claimed a 1-0 lead in the match by capturing the doubles point, getting wins at No. 1 and No. 3. The No. 2 contest went unfinished when the point was decided. Senior Josh Girling and junior Justin Kirstein (shown in photo) combined for an 8-5 win at No. 1, besting Caetano and Arthur Valle. In the No. 3 spot, Chen team with junior James Crawford and the pair was pushed to the limit by Mason Johnson and Jose Berado before escaping with a 9-8 (7-2) win.
Tech snatched points at the No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions, but dropped the bottom three positions to knot the match at 3-3 and set the stage for Chen's dramatic finish.
Girling grabbed a straight set, 6-2, 6-0, win over Joao Camara at No. 2, while Kirstein also came out on top in straight sets, downing Luka Milicevic, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 3.
Murray won the bottom three positions, all in straight sets. At No. 4, Renaldo Domoney notched a 6-1, 6-2 win over Vasily Eremeev; at No. 5, it was a 6-2, 6-3 win for Valle over Crawford; and at No. 6, the 6-3, 6-4 victory went to Johnson as he topped senior Lloyd Harris.
|1. CHEN, Alex (TTU) def. CAETANO, Jorge (MUR-M) 7-5, 6-4|
|2. GIRLING, Josh (TTU) def. CAMARA, Joao (MUR-M) 6-2, 6-0|
|3. KIRSTEIN, Justin (TTU) def. MILICEVIC, Luka (MUR-M) 6-3, 6-3|
|4. DOMONEY, Renaldo (MUR-M) def. EREMEEV, Vasily (TTU) 6-1, 6-2|
|5. VALLE, Arthur (MUR-M) def. CRAWFORD, James (TTU) 6-2, 6-3|
|6. JOHNSON, Mason (MUR-M) def. HARRIS, Lloyd (TTU) 6-3, 6-4|
|1. GIRLING, Josh/KIRSTEIN, Justin (TTU) def. CAETANO, Jorge/VALLE, Arthur (MUR-M) 8-5|
|2. HARRIS, Lloyd/EREMEEV, Vasily (TTU) vs. MILICEVIC, Luka/DOMONEY, Renaldo (MUR-M) unfinished|
|3. CHEN, Alex/CRAWFORD, James (TTU) def. JOHNSON, Mason/BERADO, Jose (MUR-M) 9-8 (7-2)|
|Murray State 5-15|
|Tennessee Tech 8-8|