PADUCAH, Ky. – Austin Peay State University women’s tennis team begins its quest for an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship, Friday, at Heflin Tennis Center. The fifth-seeded Lady Govs face fourth seed Eastern Illinois at 10 a.m.
After beginning the season at a disastrous 1-7, Austin Peay rebounded to finish 9-12 (5-5 OVC). The Panthers earned the four-seed thanks to a 12-5 record and 7-3 OVC mark.
Eastern Illinois defeated Austin Peay, 4-2, in a snow-shortened March 24 event. Sophomores Ornella Di Salvo and Vanessa Tavares posted wins for the Lady Govs, with the win kicking off a three-match win streak for Tavares at No. 4 singles.
“Last time, I think Eastern Illinois adjusted to the faster courts inside,” said head coach Ross Brown. “I’m hopeful our doubles can get out strong and take that point. If we can, I think we’ll be very difficult to beat.
“I think it will be better for us outside. It’s going to be cold tomorrow, and doing the simple things will be important. We have to be consistent and limit unforced errors.”
The Lady Govs defeated Eastern Illinois in the first round of last year’s OVC Tournament, with the then-third seeded Lady Govs getting singles victories from Di Salvo, junior Andra Cornea and sophomore Alison Carre, who earned second-team all-conference honors at Thursday night’s awards banquet.
Eastern Illinois is a strong road squad; the Panthers went 8-3 away from Charleston during the regular season. The Panthers doubles have been their strength against OVC opponents, with a 15-5 record against the conference in doubles play in 2013.
A win would advance the Lady Govs to a match against top-ranked Eastern Kentucky, 10 a.m., Saturday.