Sitting in fourth place, the women’s tennis team has two final matches of the season. To secure a higher postseason position, the Panthers need to win both matches this weekend.
Earlier in the year, Eastern was tied for third place in Ohio Valley Conference standings, but after being swept last weekend by Murray State and Austin Peay, the Panthers dropped to their current position.
The best the Panthers can do is to finish the year as the fourth seed in the conference tournament.
Jacksonville State is tied for fourth with Eastern, with a 4-3 record in conference. If both teams win their final two matches, Eastern has the tiebreaker between the two.
Murray State is first with an 8-0 conference record, Eastern Kentucky is 7-0 in second place and Austin Peay is third at 6-2.
If Eastern does win both matches this weekend against Southeast Missouri and Tennessee-Martin, and if Austin Peay loses its final match against Eastern Kentucky, both teams would finish conference 6-3. But Austin Peay owns the tiebreaker between the two teams.
Possibly two of the better matchups for Eastern to finish as high as possible in conference are this weekend in Southeast Missouri and Tennessee-Martin.
Southeast Missouri is tied second-to-last in the conference with a 1-6 conference record and an overall record of 4-12.
Tennessee-Martin is currently the sixth-place team in the OVC and the last team who would get into the conference tournament, if they stayed in sixth place.
Tennessee-Martin is 3-4 in conference play and 3-12 overall.
Like Eastern, Southeast Missouri has defeated Tennessee State this season. The Redhawks beat Tennessee State 4-3, while Eastern won in a 7-0 shutout.
Tennessee-Martin’s only conference wins are also over teams Eastern has defeated as well. The Skyhawks defeated Belmont 5-2, Southeast Missouri 4-3 and Tennessee State 5-2.
Eastern defeated Belmont by the same score.
At stake for Tennessee-Martin is that final spot in the conference tournament. The Skyhawks must win one of their final matches against Eastern or Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to secure their spot.
If the Skyhawks lose both matches, and Belmont wins both of its matches, Belmont would make the tournament with four conference wins. But if Tennessee-Martin wins just one match, it would make the tournament because even if Belmont wins both, the Skyhawks have the tiebreaker.
The most important win for Eastern to be in the position it is in was its first conference match of the season, a 4-3 win against Jacksonville State. Interim director of tennis Sam Kercheval said after the match that it was an important win for the team.
The win was important because it helped get the Panthers to a higher spot in the conference as the season progressed and they got more victories.
Eastern’s first match is Friday at 10 a.m. against Southeast Missouri at the Darling Tennis Courts. On Saturday, the Panthers host Tennessee-Martin at the same time at the Darling Tennis Courts.
Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]