WINGMEN:

Get a wingman!  As soon as you have a factory, and get enough money, buy a fighter for the factory and then reassign it to protect you.  There are three kinds of Teladi fighters:
Name
Bat
Hawk
Falcon
Cost
10400
54000
270000
Shields
1000
5000
25000
Laser
3000
6000
12000
Comment
To slow to keep up, but better than nothing
Not too bad for a starter
A couple of Falcons can give fairly strong support.
(Tip) A Destroyer like the Teladi Phoenix makes the best wingman you ever saw, if you can get near him before engaging the Xenon.