Feb. 19, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 10th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team tallied the first four points to clinch its eighth win in nine tries, defeating No. 64 Ohio State, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at the Varsity Tennis Center.
"They did what they needed to do to win," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "It's been a long couple weeks for us travel-wise. Everyone gave great effort. When you're playing this many matches on the road, sometimes your execution is not where you want it to be. They did what they needed to do and came out on top."
Despite moving up a spot in the lineup for the second consecutive match, Tennessee's (8-3) top half (No. 34 Brynn Boren, No. 37 Kata Szekely and Caitlyn Williams) all won for the second time this weekend to secure the victory over the Buckeyes (3-5).
As Ohio State controlled the bottom three courts, Williams provided the clinching point for the second consecutive match.
"They did great," Hahn-Patrick said. "I think it shows the experience of the top of the lineup. Although Caitlyn is a freshman, she had a lot of international experience. She's played a lot of different players and understands what she needs to do on the court. I think that showed."
With senior Natalie Pluskota sidelined with a foot injury, Tennessee's doubles teams were also bumped up a spot again, but had the Lady Vols remained dominant in the initial point.
Extending their program record, the Lady Vols got on the board first by securing the doubles point for the 11th-straight time to open the season.
For the pair, it was just another day at the office, improving to an SEC-best 11-0 in dual-match play and winning their 14th consecutive overall. But for Toti, this one carried increased significance.
With 22 overall doubles wins, the three-time SEC Freshman of the Week has already moved into UT's Top 10 for doubles victories as a rookie. Alison Ojeda and Meiling Parks are also tied for 10th with 22 wins as freshmen.
Szekely and Joanna Henderson notched their third doubles-point clincher of the season with an 8-3 victory over Kelsey Haviland and Noelle Malley. Williams and Jesse Grace fell, 8-4, to Fidan Manashirova and Gabby Steele after the point had been decided.
For the second time this weekend, Szekely cruised in singles. After recording a 6-3, 6-1 win at Indiana on Friday, the junior made it even easier Sunday, defeating No. 123 Fidan Manashirova 6-1, 6-2. Szekely is 7-2 against ranked opponents in 2011-12.
Sporting a 2-0 lead, the Lady Vols' next two points came in almost simultaneously. Boren finished first with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Cecil, while Williams clinched Tennessee's eighth win with a 6-1, 6-2 tilt over Haviland.
Boren leads the team with 15 overall singles wins, and has won consecutive matches from the No. 1 position after coming into the weekend with a two-match losing skid.
Williams, meanwhile, maintained her team-high three-match winning streak and is 2-0 from the third spot in the lineup.
With a 4-0 lead and the match in hand, the Lady Vols dropped contests on courts four, five and six. Henderson lost her second straight after winning five in a row, Toti lost for just the second time in eight matches and Grace fell to 0-2.
Although the Buckeyes finished strong, Tennessee returns to Knoxville as winners of its first two road matches.
"I think it was a matter of just being mentally tougher and just trying to be more consistent," Hahn-Patrick said. "Ohio State is a very athletic team. You just have to kind of weather the storm and get past the first few balls with them. Once we got through the first few shots, they started to break down. "
The Lady Vols play their third consecutive match on the road, and first outdoors, next Saturday at Central Florida. Doubles play is slated to begin at noon ET.
#10 Tennessee 4, #64 Ohio State 3
1. #34 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Kara Cecil (OSU) 6-4, 6-1
2. #37 Kata Szekely (UT) def. #123 Fidan Manashirova (OSU) 6-1, 6-2
3. Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Kelsey Haviland (OSU) 6-1, 6-2
4. Kelsey Dieters (OSU) def. Sarah Toti (UT) 6-3, 6-4
5. Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Joanna Henderson (UT) 6-4, 6-2
6. Tiffany Dittmer (OSU) def. Jesse Grace (UT) 6-2, 7-6 (1)
1. #2 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) def. Kara Cecil/Kelsey Dieters (OSU) 8-0
2. Kata Szekely/Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Kelsey Haviland/Noelle Malley (OSU) 8-3
3. Fidan Manashirova/Gabby Steele (OSU) def. Jesse Grace/Caitlyn Williams (UT) 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 2, 3); Singles (2, 1, 3, 5, 4, 6)
Records: Tennessee (8-3), Ohio State (3-5)