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First time: Golden Eagles play at home, face OVC action this weekend

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A couple of new experiences await the Tennessee Tech tennis team this weekend. Exactly two full months into their spring schedule, the Golden Eagles will play their first home match of the 2012 season, and will also face their first Ohio Valley Conference action.

Coach Kenny Doyle's team will welcome Eastern Kentucky Saturday and Morehead State Sunday, with both matches scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on the campus tennis courts.

Eastern Kentucky was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as OVC champion in 2012 in the annual preseason coach's poll, while Tech was picked for third place and Morehead State was tabbed to finish fifth.

The Golden Eagles have compiled a 2-7 overall record this spring in dual matches, but come into the weekend on the heels of a 4-3 victory at UNC Asheville in their final pre-OVC action. EKU is 12-6 overall and 2-0 in OVC matches, while Morehead State brings an 8-6 record into the weekend including a 1-1 mark in conference. 

Admission to all of Tech's home matches is free.

Three players have compiled the top individual records among the Golden Eagles this year, led by Syrym Abdukhalikov at the No. 1 singles spot. The hard-hitting junior from Kazakhstan is 9-9 in singles play overall this year, his first on the courts for Tech after a transfer from Nebraska. He is 4-5 in dual matches this spring.

Justin Kirstein, a senior from South Africa, is next in line for Tech, posting a 7-9 overall singles mark including a 3-5 record in dual play. Vasily Eremeev, a sophomore from Russia, is 6-10 overall in singles action with a 2-7 record in play this spring.

Through the years, Tech has owned the rivalry with the Colonels, winning 47 of the previous 64 matches. EKU has dominated of late, however, winning the last four matches including a 7-0 contest in Cookeville in the regular season finale last year that clinched the OVC title.

The Colonels had won four straight matches before dropping a 7-0 contest at No. 5 Virginia last week. They returned to the win column Wednesday with an easy 7-0 OVC victory at Tennessee.

EKU lost two-time OVC Player of the Year Alex Das, but Hugo Klientovsky has taken over the role at No. 1 for the Colonels, building a 15-11 overall record in singles play including an 11-5 record in dual matches. He is 9-6 in doubles matches while pairing with three different playing partners.

Morehead State got into a nice groove earlier this month, winning five straight matches before losing to Samford. The Eagles came into last weekend having won seven of their last eight, but have now dropped two in a row. They fell at Jacksonville State and No. 43 Louisville, both by 7-0 scores.

Sophomore Seve Day, playing in middle of the lineup, has had the most success with an 8-4 record in dual matches. Junior Nathan Martin, also in the middle of the lineup, is 7-6 in dual matches this spring. At the top spot, three different players have filled the No. 1 position. Justin Harlow is 0-6 while seeing the most opportunities, while David Clifford is 3-2.

Tech has enjoyed much success through the years when facing Morehead State, especially since 1986. The Golden Eagles hold a 36-11 all-time record against Morehead State, including a 27-3 record since 1986. Last year, the Golden Eagles claimed a 4-3 victory in Cookeville as Alex Chen tied the match with a win at No. 1 singles and Kirstein clinched the victory by claiming his point at No. 2 singles.  

Complete results from each match will be posted on TTUsports.com as soon as they become available.