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Tennis wins MVC regular season championship

The Murray State tennis team following their win over Valparaiso. Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics.

History was made in Peoria, Illinois, over the weekend as Murray State tennis claimed the first MVC Championship for the school.

The championship also marked the first for the tennis program since 2015.

Going into the weekend, the Racers were guaranteed a share of the championship. But after defeating Bradley 5-2, Murray State won its eighth straight conference meet to go undefeated in MVC play and win the championship outright.

 Jorge Caetano, head coach, spoke before practice Wednesday about the win and how it feels to finally take this program back to victory.

“We have a lot of young players, but also a lot of experience,” Caetano said. “So our first goal was ‘let’s win the conference tournament.’ Taking it one match at a time, I think we did everything very well this season. Maybe we played two matches that were our absolute best, but this team is so competitive and we are so deep in our lineup that we were able to find wins. That’s a trait of a good champion.”

 Marit Kreugel, graduate, said it’s great the team could be champions, but they aren’t even playing their best right now.

“I feel like tennis-wise, we aren’t playing our best,” Kreugel said. “But with the energy we have, we have the best chance of winning. Even if we aren’t playing our best, we can only get better, so that means if we can win without even playing our best, we can only be better come nationals time.”

Natalie Slezakova, graduate, discussed how it felt to be outright champions of the MVC, rather than taking a share of the championship.

“We really did not want to share this championship,” Slezakova said. “We wanted to be the only champions. It takes more pressure and stress off of us, honestly. This whole thing just means a lot to us to get recognition from the community.”

Slezakova also commented on the emotions the team felt in the moment of winning. She said it was a huge wave of emotion that she will never forget.

“There was so much happiness and relief because most of us have been here for four or five years and never won this title,” Slezakova said. “We knew that our time was coming to an end, so we wanted to get this done. We were so happy, our voices were gone after that last point. We had so much joy, and to share it with the people I love and my family that came over, it was special.”

Caetano headed back to practice with one goal in mind heading into the weekend: heading to the NCAA tournament.

“Our saying this season is ‘we want to be dancing at the end of the season, so the job is not done,’” Caetano said. “It’s funny because some of them are new here, so they don’t even know the expression of dancing. But they are all excited, and that shows a lot. We are so competitive. We do a lot for this university. Now we’ve won the conference, and we want to finish strong and win the NCAA tournament.”

After the conference championship, Caetano was given an extension to remain Murray State tennis coach.

The Racers compete in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship meet this weekend, which is hosted by Belmont in Nashville, Tennessee. Day one is Friday, and the meet lasts through Sunday.


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About the Contributor
Jakob Milani
Jakob Milani, Sports Editor
Jakob Milani is all about sports. He joined the staff of The Murray State News in 2020 as a sports writer, assigned to women's basketball, and by fall 2021 was named Sports Editor. He is a dedicated lover of all things Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears related, and loves to talk about all things sports. He is a co-host of "The Iron Grid" podcast with fellow sports writer Ronan Summers, and only ever watches ESPN in his down time. Aside from sports, Jakob also has a passion for music and baking. His favorite artists include Nirvana, Travis Scott, and Queen. His favorite item to bake is cheesecake.

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