By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The final weekend of the regular season is here and much is still to be decided for the Tennessee Tech tennis team in its bid for a sixth Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship in the last seven years.
Heating up at exactly the right time with five consecutive wins under their belt, the Golden Eagles (7-10, 4-0 OVC) will head to Nashville for back-to-back battles with Tennessee State and Belmont. Tech is set to tangle with the Tigers (10-10, 0-3 OVC) Friday at noon CT, before bolting for Belmont Saturday at 10 a.m.
Saturday's regular-season finale with the Bruins (11-10, 4-0 OVC) could have title implications with both squads entering the weekend as the last two unblemished clubs in the conference. Before greeting the Golden Eagles, Belmont will lock up with Jacksonville State Friday morning.
Tech has won 27 OVC regular season matches in a row.
Friday will end an eight-day layoff for TTU, as the Golden Eagles were last seen knocking off Jacksonville State 6-1 on Apr. 5. Tech's triumph served as JSU's first OVC loss of the season.
No. 62 Eduardo Mena heads into the weekend on an eight-match singles win streak that has pushed the two-time OVC Player of the Year to an 11-4 mark this spring. With two regular season matches remaining in his illustrious career, Mena boasts a 26-1 all-time record against conference competition.
Freshman Riku Kubota has won five consecutive singles clashes, while fellow freshman Gonzalo Garcia and junior Wenceslao Albin have posted winning records in their first season in purple and gold. Albin is 9-7 this spring and Garcia is 9-8 in addition to posting the team's best doubles mark at 8-5.
Tennessee State has already played this week, suffering a 7-0 loss to Belmont on Wednesday. Stefan Koruga and Shashank Nautiyal pace the Tigers with an 11-8 singles record, while Larry Sloan has done the most damage out of the No. 1 spot on the team with a club-leading 6-4 mark.
The Golden Eagles are perfect in the all-time series with the Tigers, racking up a 30-0 record in the head-to-head history.
After a 7-0 victory over Tennessee State on Wednesday, Belmont has now outscored its OVC opponents 26-2 in four conference matches this season. Hendrik Inno has led the Bruin charge with a 14-5 singles mark this season, highlighted by a club-best 11-5 record out of the top spot in the lineup. The 6-foot sophomore has also gone 3-0 in the No. 3 slot in the Bruin order.
Tech leads the all-time series 16-8 with the Bruins, having won four straight, including a 4-0 nod in the OVC Tournament semifinals last year.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information