Feb. 3, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 17th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team put on a dominating performance, rolling No. 24 Notre Dame, 6-1, for its third consecutive win after opening the season 0-2.
Tennessee swept all three doubles matches to remain undefeated in the doubles point this season, taking a 1-0 lead, including wins over a pair of top-25 duos.
Following the performance, UT won five singles matches in straight sets before retiring Natalie Pluskota's match for the final score. Four Lady Vols, Brynn Boren, Joanna Henderson, Kata Szekely and Sarah Toti, all won their third consecutive singles contest.
"We played well, and that's what you want the team to do, especially at home," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "When you are at home, you gain some momentum playing great doubles points and then you get out there and get on top of them (in the singles), it is great."
For the fifth time in as many matches this season, Tennessee claimed the doubles point and as a team has won 10 consecutive individual contests. Overall, UT is a combined 12-1 in doubles play.
Henderson and Szekely led the charge, defeating Chrissie McGaffigan and Jennifer Kellner, 8-1, to improve to 3-0 in dual-match play. The tandem has been UT's first to finish three times and hasn't given up more than two points this season.
After dropping the opening game to 25th-ranked Britney Sanders and Katherine White, No. 18 Boren and Toti reeled off seven straight and eight of nine games to win their eighth consecutive match together dating back to the fall.
The duo is 5-0 together in dual-match play, part of an eight-match winning streak that is a career-long for both. Together, they have won six of seven matches against ranked opponents and are an impressive 16-3 overall.
After Boren and Toti provided doubles-point clincher for the fourth time this season, Natalie Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams sought their fourth consecutive win against fifth-ranked Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews.
Tennessee's top tandem jumped out to a 2-0 lead, before dropping the next three games. The Lady Vol combo closed strong, winning six of the next seven to improve to 4-1 together.
"By winning that doubles point it shows the kind of potential we have," Patrick said. "That is a good team we played and we showed that we are not 100 percent. Notre Dame has a lot of potential and they can play with anyone in the country on any day.
Leading 1-0 and invigorated after doubles, Tennessee won the first set on all six courts in singles.
Boren, who moved to No. 2 in the singles lineup after a pair of wins last weekend, boosted the Lady Vol lead to 2-0 after a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Frilling. The No. 27-ranked player nationally is 3-0 in her career from the second position in the lineup and 14-2 overall in Knoxville.
"She played super tonight," Patrick said of Boren. "She faced a quality player and she has done a lot of work the last couple of weeks. I do not think she played her best tennis in New York and she knew that. She has come back and worked hard and is starting to play some really good tennis." Moments later, Williams improved her record to 2-1 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Sanders, who had started the dual-match season 5-0 and was 11-3 overall.
Needing just a point to clinch the victory, the Lady Vols turned to Toti for the second straight match. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week delivered, posting a 6-3, 6-2 win over McGaffigan, to put UT ahead, 4-0. Toti remained undefeated from the fifth spot in the lineup.
With the match decided, two more wins came in succession. 59th-ranked Szekely remained undefeated (3-0) in dual-match play, becoming the first to knock off Kellner this season, who maintained a 4-0 record this spring. Szekely is 10-2 overall after defeating Kellner, 6-3, 6-1.
After opening the season with a pair of losses, Henderson has settled in at the No. 6 position, as she won her third consecutive match, defeating Katherine White, 6-4, 6-2.
Leading 6-0 and with Pluskota in her second set, the Lady Vols elected to retire the match.
"Natalie has been battling some injuries so to go out there and play an extra hour-and-a-half with what it would have taken for her to get it done would not have been the smartest thing to do right now," Patrick said. "We have a lot of matches to play in the next couple weeks against a lot of great schools so we need her. We do not get this done without her, so we need her healthy."
The Lady Vols will put their winning streak on the line at the Goodfriend Tennis Center on Sunday, hosting 10th-ranked Michigan at 10 a.m.
#17 Tennessee 6, #24 Notre Dame 1
1. Shannon Mathews (UND) def. #24 Natalie Pluskota (UT) 6-7 (4), 2-1, ret.
2. #27 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Kristy Frilling (UND) 6-2, 6-0
3. #59 Kata Szekely (UT) def. Jennifer Kellner (UND) 6-3, 6-1
4. Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Britney Sanders (UND) 6-2, 6-2
5. Sarah Toti (UT) def. Chrissie McGaffigan (UND) 6-3, 6-2
6. Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Katherine White (UND) 6-4, 6-2
1. Natalie Pluskota/Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. #5 Kristy Frilling/Shannon Mathews (UND) 8-4
2. #18 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) def. #25 Britney Sanders/Katherine White (UND) 8-2
3. Kata Szekely/Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Chrissie McGaffigan/Jennifer Kellner (UND) 8-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 2, 1); Singles (2, 4, 5, 3, 6, 1)
Sophomore Brynn Boren
(On her season thus far)
"I had a rough start to the season, starting off as number one (in singles) so the coaches moved me back down the lineup to get more matches under my belt. I won two matches and I was moved back up for this weekend (to the number two singles spot). My confidence is where it needs to be at right now so I am feeling good."
(On her overall play against Notre Dame)
"I just had a game plan out there to hit a ton of forehand balls because that is my strength. It worked out really well and I was able to execute perfectly."
(On eight-match doubles winning streak)
"(Sarah and I) have been playing for six to eight months now together so we know each other really well on the court. We just know how to work together on the court and we make a really good team."
Freshman Caitlyn Williams
(On the adjustment to the college tennis game)
"It is a bit different from junior tennis, obviously. I definitely like the team aspect of it a lot more than having to play for yourself. We always get a great crowd out here. A lot of my family and friends have been coming to the matches and that is great having them support me."