NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin tennis team gave it their all today at the Ohio Valley Conference Championship semifinals but ultimately came up just short, 4-3 against Eastern Kentucky at Centennial Sportsplex.
The Skyhawks wrap up their 2016-17 season with a 12-5 overall record after going 8-1 in OVC play during the spring.
UT Martin was able to secure the doubles point to get the early momentum. The No. 1 team of Sarah Candeloro and Jemima Potter rolled to a 6-2 victory while Burcu Tari and Andrea Plantada Cortes tallied a 6-3 win at No. 3 to clinch the point. The Skyhawks’ No. 2 squad of Hitomi Naito and Asel Jumamukhambetova were also leading 5-4 at the conclusion of doubles.
Candeloro finished her collegiate career with a singles win, breezing by with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 1. The Skyhawks then ran into some misfortune at No. 4 as Tari won the first set 6-3 and was leading 5-4 before a severe leg cramp forced her to retire.
Eastern Kentucky (12-10) then posted a three-set tiebreaker win at No. 3 before a gritty performance by Naito at No. 2 provided UT Martin with another point. The senior, who has battled injury all season long, dialed up a comeback 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4 victory to result in a 3-2 lead for the Skyhawks.
However, the Colonels came away with victories at No. 5 and No. 6 to win the match.
Today’s result concluded the exceptional UT Martin careers of Candeloro, Naito and Tari. Universally regarded as the best class in Skyhawk tennis history, the trio accumulated eight All-OVC selections and 464 combined victories for head coach Dennis Taylor.