Jan. 27, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In dominating fashion, the 19th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team recorded its first victory of the 2012 season (1-2) and 600th in program history, blanking No. 58 UC Davis, 5-0, on Friday afternoon at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
After being shorthanded in their opening two matches with just five in the singles lineup, the Lady Vols were at full strength on Friday and it showed.
"It always feels good to get that first win," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "We have a young team so it is important to try and get some confidence going. We played some really tough competition last week, and it was fun for them to come out today and dominate a little bit."
For the third time in as many matches, Tennessee was stellar in doubles.
The 18th-ranked tandem of Brynn Boren and Sarah Toti, tied 1-1 early, ran off seven straight sets to win 8-1 and move to 3-0 on the season, defeating Dahra Zamudio and Nicole Koehly. Dating back to Nov. 11, the duo has won a career-best six consecutive matches together.
Natalie Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams clinched the doubles point shortly thereafter, topping Megan Heneghan and Kelly Chui, 8-0, to win their second consecutive match. With the win, Pluskota is now tied with Margie Lepsi for the 10th-most doubles wins (90) in UT history.
As impressive as UT was in doubles, its play transferred to singles as well, as all six Lady Vols won their first sets. Williams won a tight first set, 6-4, and her five teammates won by at least a score of 6-2.
Boren, who led UT with 30 singles wins as a freshman in 2011, was the first to the finish line by locking up her first dual-match victory with a 6-1, 6-0 score over Kelly Chui.
Pluskota, who was held out of singles last weekend, won her first dual match of the season 6-2, 6-1 over Dahra Zamudio to put the Lady Vols within striking distance.
"When you have the people hanging from the rafters (All-American banners) on your team and they are not playing, that is tough," Patrick said of his lone senior and two-time All-American. "When she is back in, she gives everybody a lot more confidence. She pushes everybody in the lineup to a spot where they are more comfortable, more experienced and you compete a little better."
Henderson notched her first career dual-match victory in style, securing the Lady Vols' first win with a 6-0, 6-4 ledger over Melissa Kobayakawa. Since Toti was on match point when Henderson finished, she was able to play one last point. The Las Vegas, Nev., native also recorded her first career dual-match victory.
The Lady Vols will play in the ITA Kick-Off Championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. against No. 22 Tulsa, which defeated No. 33 N.C. State, 4-1, earlier on Friday. Admission for Saturday's action at the Goodfriend Tennis Center is free.
#19 Tennessee 5, #58 UC Davis 0
1. #24 Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. Dahra Zamudio (UC Davis) 6-2, 6-1
2. #59 Kata Szekely (UT) vs. Megan Heneghan (UC Davis) 6-2, 4-3, unfinished
3. #27 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Kelly Chui (UC Davis) 6-1, 6-0
4. Caitlyn Williams (UT) vs. Lauren Curry (UC Davis) 6-4,2-0, unfinished
5. Sarah Toti (UT) def. Nicole Koehly (UC Davis) 6-0, 6-3
6. Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Melissa Kobayakawa (UC Davis) 6-0, 6-4
1. Natalie Pluskota/Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Meghan Heneghan/Kelly Chui (UC Davis) 8-0
2. #18 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) def. Dahra Zamudio/Nicole Koehly (UC Davis) 8-1
3. Kata Szekely/Joanna Henderson (UT) vs. Lauren Curry/Ellie Edles (UC Davis), 7-0, unfinished
Order of finish: Doubles (2, 1); Singles (3, 1, 6, 5)
Other Quotes From Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick
(On the play of all three freshmen)
"They did a good job. We are going to get better as the season goes on. By March they will not have the excuse that they are not very seasoned. Today we had to talk about scoreboard watching. All three freshmen started looking up to see who was going to finish and they lost their focus. That is normal and we will learn from it and be better tomorrow."
(On the program earning its 600th win)
"It is my 25th year here and they had about ten years or so before me. I have been here a long time and we have been very competitive the last 25 years nationally and hopefully we continue to be."
(On the Pluskota/Williams duo)
"They are both a little limited with some health issues so they are just really talented. Natalie has a lot of experience, and Caitlyn is like Natalie was a couple years ago. She is just a very talented player. (Caitlyn) will get tougher. She will learn a lot from Natalie, what they need to do and what intensity they need to play with. They are going to be a good team. If they can stay healthy, then they can really be a factor at the end of the year."