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Tennis goes dancing in NCAA Tournament

The+Murray+State+tennis+team+celebrates+its+placement+in+the+2024+NCAA+Tournament+bracket.
Jakob Milani
The Murray State tennis team celebrates its placement in the 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket.

After defeating Illinois State University 4-1 on Sunday, April 28, and winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Murray State tennis team isn’t finished yet.

Murray State went 17-5 this season with a perfect record against MVC opponents, as they went 8-0 in conference play. The conference tournament win allows the Racers into the NCAA Tournament. 

The advancement into the NCAA Tournament is Murray State’s first bid into the tournament since 2015. Head Coach Jorge Caetano said he believes his team is playing its best tennis heading into the tournament.

“I think I told you guys last week that this team hadn’t scratched the surface of their talent,” Caetano said. “We showed that in the championship. We played our best tennis.”

Valeria Chaikovskaia, freshman singles winner, was among those who excelled in one of the biggest matches of the season, winning her third set to make the Racers MVC champions. 

“I was pretty confident, I was trying to do my best,” Chaikovskaia said. “We just had a goal and did it.”

Murray State will play the University of Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee finished this season with an 18-7 overall record and a 9-4 record against SEC opponents. Tennessee played and lost in the SEC Championship to the University of Georgia. 

“We’re going in with a lot of momentum,” Caetano said. “We’ve played one of their doubles teams in regionals in the fall, and we won. It’s tennis; it’s college sports. That’s why we play the game. We’re going to try to upset them; we’re going to look forward to that match for sure.”

The match in the fall against Tennessee will help Caetano’s team know what to expect.

“I think it was good for us to go there and see the level of play that they have,” Caetano said. “We have to play at our absolute best from start to finish. That’s the main difference with some of the top programs – they have that level consistently. We know we can play at that level; it’s all about are we going to be able to go from first point to last point, toe to toe, with them.”

Murray State will take on Tennessee at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 4 at Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. If they win, they will play the winner of Duke University and East Tennessee State University on Sunday, May 5.

 

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About the Contributors
Ronan Summers, Sports writer
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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