Feb. 13, 2005

Box Score

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After winning a pair of clutch 4-3 contests in its last two matches, the 18th-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis squad (3-2) would not let No. 29 Michigan (3-4) keep Sunday's home opener as dramatic. UT won easily, 5-0. The Big Orange had defeated then-No. 47 Purdue and then-No. 33 Illinois in its last two matches, which saw each winning tally come from the final singles match to be completed.

The highlight of the day came in singles play as junior and 50th-ranked Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla. / Buchholz H.S.) topped No. 44 Michelle DaCosta, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 1 singles. The contest scored the fourth and clinching team point for UT. DaCosta dispatched Maharaj in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Singles Championships, 6-3, 6-1. The two had also met in the regular season with Maharaj pulling out a 6-4, 3-6, (10-7) victory.

The Lady Vols set the tone today in doubles play, taking the first two contests to be completed and clinching the doubles point. At No. 3, the UT duo of sophomore Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va. / Loudoun County H.S.) and freshman Bryce Marable (Darien, Ill. / Hinsdale South H.S.) defeated UM's pair of Elizabeth Exon and Nina Yaftali, 8-4. Griffith and Marable have played together since the beginning of the dual season and have put together an impressive 4-1 overall mark (4-0 at No. 3, 0-1 at No. 2).

In the No. 2 match, senior Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky. / Henderson County H.S.) and freshman Ghizela Schutte (Ninapark, South Africa / Damelin College) teamed up for the first time, defeating Leanne Rutherford and Allie Shafner, 8-5.



The final doubles match, which saw the 15th-ranked Michigan pair of DaCosta and Kara Delicate lead UT's Maharaj and junior Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio / Lexington H.S.), 7-1, went unfinished because of Michigan's travel plans.

The Lady Vols then quickly took care of business in singles as the first four matches to start at UT's four-court indoor facility, the Goodfriend Tennis Center, were straight-set wins for UT players.

The first to be completed saw No. 107 Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K. / South Tyneside College) win at No. 4 over Rutherford, 6-4, 6-0. Rutherford had topped Jones at last year's UM-UT meeting, 6-0, 6-3. The sophomore has won four straight, with the three previous to today coming in the No. 3 position.

Griffith then kept her hot season going, quickly dispatching Delicata, 6-2, 6-4, in the No. 2 position to give UT a 4-0 advantage. The sophomore now has won four consecutive contests, each in straight sets. She started the dual season with a loss in the No. 2 position before earning her way back into that position with the next three wins all coming at No. 3.

Maharaj then earned her impressive victory to clinch the match victory for UT, while Marable topped Exon at No. 3, 6-3, 7-5, moments later for the fifth and final team point for the Lady Vols. The freshman had dropped three tight straight-set matches in the No. 2 position before rebounding for today's victory.

The fifth and sixth matches started but were not completed. At No. 5, Michigan 's Yaftali led Robards, 4-3, while Schaub was in control at court four, taking the first set, 6-1, over UM's Debra Streifler.

"It's good to get off to a good start at home," Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "Everybody competed hard and I was real pleased with the team's performances."

The Lady Vols continue their home slate, playing No. 27 Indiana at 1 p.m. on Saturday and No. 30 Wake Forest at 1 p.m. next Sunday. "Both Indiana and Wake Forest are great teams with well-respected coaches," Patrick said. "Hopefully we'll carry some of this momentum and keep improving.

#18 Tennessee 5, #29 Michigan 0
Singles competition:
1.#50 Sabita Maharaj (UT) def. #44 Michelle DaCosta (UM)6-4, 6-4
2.Blakeley Griffith (UT) def. Kara Delicata (UM)6-2, 6-4
3.Bryce Marable (UT) def. #95 Elizabeth Exon (UM)6-3, 7-5
4.#107 Victoria Jones (UT) def. Leanne Rutherford (UM)6-4, 6-0
5.Ashley Robards (UT) vs. Nina Yaftali (UM)3-4, unfinished
6.Melissa Schaub (UT) vs. Debra Streifler (UM)6-1, unfinished
Doubles competition:
1.Melissa Schaub/Sabita Maharaj (UT) vs. #15 Michelle DaCosta/Kara Delicata (UM)2-7, unfinished
2.Ashley Robards/Ghizela Schutte (UT) def. Leanne Rutherford/Allie Shafner (UM)8-5
3.Bryce Marable/Blakeley Griffith (UT) def. Elizabeth Exon/Nina Yaftali (UM)8-4

Match Notes:
Michigan 3-4; National ranking #29
Tennessee 3-2; National ranking #18
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,2,1,3)



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