Eastern Kentucky tops Tech to capture OVC Tournament title

Alejandro Augusto (photo by Rob Schabert)
Alejandro Augusto (photo by Rob Schabert)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Eastern Kentucky Colonels avenged a regular season loss to Tennessee Tech Sunday with a 4-1 win in the OVC Men's Tennis Tournament Championship. The loss snapped an 11-match win streak by the Golden Eagles.

Tech finishes the season with an 11-8 overall record after starting 1-7. The Golden Eagles were 8-0 in the OVC regular season. EKU improved to 19-9 and earned the OVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

It was a monumental battle between the two teams. After the doubles point was determined with a classic fight in the No. 1 position, four of the six singles matches went to three sets, including a pair of contests that went unfinished.

The Colonels got a jump by claiming the first win when Phil Janz and Nik Schroeder posted an 8-3 win over Artem Tarasov and Vasily Eremeev at No. 2 doubles. Tech tied the doubles play with an 8-6 win at No. 3 as Justin Kirstein and Alejandro Augusto topped Pavul Verma and Jan Dombrowski.

That put the doubles point on the line in the No. 1 court. Syrym Abdukhalikov and Alex Chen fought toe-to-toe with Carles Pons and Hugo Kleintovsky before the EKU duo emerged with a 9-7 victory. It gave Eastern Kentucky a 1-0 lead in the championship match.

Kleintovksy and Abdukhalikov went at it in the No. 1 spot, each winning a quick set. Abdukhalikov got the first set, 6-4, but Kleintovsky came back to get the second, 6-3. The EKU leader pulled out the third set, 6-3, and the Colonels were up 2-0.

While players in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots battled into a third set, each squad claimed a straight set victory at lower position. In the No. 4 rung, Verma bested Tarasov, 6-3, 6-3, and the Colonel lead grew to 3-0.

Kirstein gave Tech a ray of hope with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles over Joao Maio to make it a 3-1 lead.

The match ended when Emilio Piriz outlasted Eremeev, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, at the No. 6 spot to make it 4-1.