SEMO women’s tennis wins second consecutive OVC Tournament title, Velkoska seals deal with tiebreak win

PADUCAH, Ky. (KBSI) – Before 2022, the Southeast Missouri State women’s tennis team had zero Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championships. Now, they have two, and both times, the same player has clinched it. 

It all came down to the No. 6 singles match between SEMO fifth-year senior Teona Velkoska and SIUE’s Caitlyn Sporing. 

“I knew that it’s on me, so every single time it comes that it’s on me, I’m like, ‘okay, now I have to really focused and I cannot be stressed right now,’” Velkoska said.

Velkoska won a dramatic second-set tiebreak to clinch the conference tournament title for the second straight year. 

“It’s like literally the best feeling ever, and it was the same last year, when everybody just jumped on me, and they were hugging me, and they were so happy, and then it literally makes me like the happiest at that moment,” Velkoska said.

Daniela Hlacikova, who won her No. 1 singles match, said she may have cheered a little too hard for Velkoska, but a conference championship makes all that cheering worth it. 

“I probably yelled way too much,” she said. “My throat hurts, but I was so excited for T-T.” 

Romana Tarajova, who was the second Redhawk to finish after Hlacikova, said her nerves were through the roof while watching Velkoska. 

“For me, it’s always better to play than watch because I’m always so nervous to watch everyone, but, I’m just happy Teona was able to finish it all,” she said.

Now, SEMO turns its attention to the NCAA Tournament, and Velkoska said the Redhawks are ready. 

“We are excited to fight,” she said. “Last year, I think we were just like overwhelmed and we were so excited that we won the tournament that when we went to Stanford, of course we fought, but it was just so much excitement, but right now, I think we are more prepared to fight.” 

For SEMO athletics as a whole, this is the fourth OVC Tournament title since May 2022.

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