The women’s golf team missed the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2003. However, Pavon, in her ninth-year at the helm, expects the team to rebound this season and has scheduled some of the most competitive tournaments in the country.
“We expect to be back in the top ten (nationally) this season after having a tough spring to end last season,” Pavon said. “Each of the players has to step up her game a little bit for us to get there, but it won’t take any extraordinary measures.”
Senior Nicole Smith, an honorable mention All-America selection in 2007, juniors Diana Cantú and Ginny Brown, and sophomores Emily Sills and Rebecca Watson return for the Lady Vols. Additionally, freshman Nathalie Mansson joins the team this fall.
“We have a very solid team coming in this year, and they will be prepared to handle the competition I have lined up,” Pavon said.
The 2008-09 regular season schedule includes the Cougar Classic (Sept. 14-16), Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship (Sept. 26-28), Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championships (Oct. 10-12), Hooters Match Play (Nov. 2-4), Lady Puerto Rico Classic (Feb. 8-10), Arizona Wildcat (Feb. 22-24), UCF Challenge (March 8-10) and the Bryan National Collegiate (April 3-5). South Carolina hosts the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championships at the University Club in Columbia, S.C., from April 17-19.
For the fifth straight year, the Lady Vols begin at the College of Charleston’s Cougar Classic. Last year, Tennessee was runner-up by one stroke to Notre Dame. The Orange and White has finished in the top three each year and won the tournament, held in Charleston, S.C., in 2005.
“We have played at Charleston for several years in a row and have always played well there,” Pavon said. “It’s a very nice and well-run event, so it usually gets us off to a good start.”
After the Cougar Classic, UT travels to in-state rival Vanderbilt for the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship in Nashville before hosting the 12th annual Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championships and capping the fall at the Hooters Match Play.
The Mercedes-Benz returns to the Fox Den Country Club after four years at the Cherokee Country Club. UT placed sixth last season after winning the home event in 2006.
After a break in December and January, the Orange and White open 2009 at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic at the Coco Beach Golf Course in San Juan. Last season, the Lady Vols placed ninth at the Classic.
Following the trip to Puerto Rico, UT competes at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational in Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico. The Lady Vols then complete the regular season with trips to the ultra-competitive UCF Challenge in Lake Mary, Fla., and the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C.
The Lady Vols finished 14th at the UCF Challenge and 11th at the Bryan National last spring.
“Our strongest fields this season will come at Vanderbilt, the Hooters Match Play, Arizona and Central Florida (UCF Challenge),” Pavon said. “All of our other events will have tough fields as well. I like to make sure our team is competing against the best teams as often as possible to help us raise the level of our games.”
Lady Vol Golf 2008-09 Schedule
|Sept. 13, 14-16||Cougar Classic||Charleston, S.C.||College of Charleston|
|Sept. 25, 26-28||Mason Rudolph||Nashville||Vanderbilt|
|Oct. 9, 10-12||Mercedes-Benz||Knoxville||Tennessee|
|Nov. 1, 2-4||Hooters Match Play||Kissimmee, Fla.||NGCA|
|Feb. 7, 8-10||Puerto Rico Invitational||San Juan, P.R.||Purdue|
|Feb. 21, 22-24||Arizona Wildcat||Sonora, Mexico||Arizona|
|March 7, 8-10||UCF Challenge||Lake Mary, Fla.||Central Florida|
|April 2, 3-5||Bryan National Collegiate||Greensboro, N.C.||UNC-Greensboro/ Wake Forest|
|April 16, 17-19||SEC Championship||Columbia, S.C.||South Carolina|
|May 17, 18, 19-22||NCAA Championship||Owings Mills, Md.||Georgetown|