The Southeast Missouri State women's tennis team suffered a tough loss in its home opener.
But coach Mark Elliott believes Monday's 4-3 defeat at the hands of perennial Ohio Valley Conference power Murray State might be a spark for the Redhawks.
Murray State (6-3), playing its OVC opener, is the defending conference tournament champion. The Racers are picked to finish fourth in the 11-team league.
Southeast (2-5, 1-1) is tabbed for ninth, but the Redhawks played the Racers down to the wire.
"We should have beaten them. We let them get away," Elliott said. "But I think this was a real turning point for us. I hope it builds some confidence, to show we can play with the top teams."
Murray State won the doubles point, then Southeast claimed three of five singles matches — by No. 1 Bryce Kristal, No. 2 Drew Kristal and No. 4 Alyce Kelly — to set the stage for a thrilling finish.
With the team score tied 3-3, the match hinged on No. 3 singles, the only action remaining. The Racers' Lynsey Bochenek rallied past Julia Masotti 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.
"We had a lot of chances," Elliott said.
Southeast, which dropped a 7-0 nonleague match at Saint Louis University on Sunday night, returns to action March 21 at OVC rival Eastern Kentucky.
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Murray State 4, Southeast 3
1. — Bryce Kristal (S) def. Angela McGahee 7-5, 6-4
2. — Drew Kristal (S) def. Anne Pennington 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
3. — Lynsey Bochenek (M) def. Julia Masotti 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
4. — Alyce Kelly (S) def. Alexis Webb 6-2, 6-2
5. — Lyndsey Ottosen (M) def. Elise Natier 6-3, 6-1
6. — Adriana Alvarez (M) def. Taylor Orahood 6-0, 6-0
1. — McGahee-Pennington (M) def. Kristal-Kristal 8-5
2. — Masotti-Kelly (S) def. Ottosen-Webb 9-7
3. — Bochenek-Katelyn Fulcher (M) def. Natier-Orahood 8-0