Feb. 18, 2011
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The No. 11-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team dropped its first contest of the 2011 season, falling to No. 6 Duke by a final of 4-1 in an ITA Division I Women's National Team Indoor Championships opening round match at the Boar's Head Tennis Club on Friday.
Tennessee (6-1) battled hard, but ultimately the Blue Devils were just too much for the Lady Vols.
Co-head coach Mike Patrick said that Duke's veteran lineup was the key to victory today.
"Duke has some good depth and a lot of experience," Patrick said. "Our lack of experience and toughness against those kinds of players showed a bit today."
Tennessee opened the match in impressive fashion, taking the doubles point courtesy of wins at No. 1 and 3 doubles. UT hasn't lost a doubles match since Jan. 23, winning 15 straight matches.
"We have very good doubles," Patrick said. "Our athleticism is outstanding. We just need to match our athleticism with confidence and discipline."
The Blue Devils (7-1) tied the match with a win by 48th-ranked Ellah Nze at No. 3 singles. Duke then took a commanding 3-1 lead with wins at No. 5 and 6 singles. Tennessee tried to put together a comeback, but it fell short. Kata Szekely dropped her first set tiebreaker to No. 86 Elizabeth Plotkin, 10-8, and ultimately lost her match, 7-6, 6-1.
Matches at No. 1 and No. 2 singles went unfinished but were both in third sets at the time the match ended.
Duke's depth was ultimately Tennessee's undoing. All six players in Duke's singles lineup are ranked among the nation's top 86 players. Patrick knew his team was facing a tall task without No. 28-ranked Brynn Boren, but he wanted to see how it would respond.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't make up for the lack of somebody missing in the top part of our lineup," Patrick said. "We weren't capable of making that step up. We have to make it so we can absorb that kind of loss. We're not good enough to do that yet. Hopefully we can work hard with our players and make it so that we don't have that problem."
UT will now move to the consolation draw for the rest of the weekend. The matchups and times will be released after the completion of the final match tonight.
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#6 Duke 4, #11 Tennessee 1
1. #38 Nadine Fahoum (DUKE) vs. #39 Natalie Pluskota (TENN) 4-6, 6-0, 4-4, unfinished
2. #9 Reke Zsilinszka (DUKE) vs. Rosalia Alda (TENN) 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 1-0, unfinished
3. #48 Ellah Nze (DUKE) def. Maria Sorbello (TENN) 6-1, 6-0
4. #86 Elizabeth Plotkin (DUKE) def. Kata Szekely (TENN) 7-6 (10-8), 6-1
5. #57 Rachel Kahan (DUKE) def. Millie Nichols (TENN) 6-0, 7-5
6. #42 Mary Clayton (DUKE) def. Whitney Wofford (TENN) 6-1, 6-3
1. #48 Natalie Pluskota/Millie Nichols (TENN) def. Ellah Nze/Monica Gorny (DUKE) 8-1
2. Nadine Fahoum/Hanna Mar (DUKE) vs. Rosalia Alda/Maria Sorbello (TENN) 5-6, unfinished
3. Kata Szekely/Jennifer Meredith (TENN) def. Elizabeth Plotkin/Reke Zsilinszka (DUKE) 8-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (3,6,5,4)