Feb. 20, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Despite not having played in almost two weeks, the No. 22 University of Tennessee women's tennis team (5-1) looked extremely sharp in its return to competitive action on Friday afternoon, earning its first sweep of the season, defeating No. 44 Indiana (7-3), 7-0, at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center in Knoxville, Tenn.
With the victory over the Hoosiers, the Orange and White is now 3-0 against squads from the Big Ten this season and 50-5 (.909) over the past 10 years. During UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick's tenure at Rocky Top, the Lady Vols have put together a dominating 71-12 (.855) record over Big Ten teams, after going 8-9 in the years prior to his arrival.
"We have a long history with Indiana and it seems like our matches are always very competitive," Patrick said. "Anytime that we can get a solid win over a team as well coached and talented as Indiana, we are happy. I'm also proud of our team for coming back after such a long layoff without missing a beat."
For the fourth time this season, the Big Orange was able to come away with the all-important doubles point, sweeping all three contests. The Tennessee tandem of sophomore Maria Sorbello and junior Zsófia Zubor got things started with a tough, 8-5, victory over the Hoosier duo of Megan Matter and Lindsey Stuckey on court three.
UT sophomores Rosalía Alda and Jennifer Meredith then teamed up to give the Lady Vols the first lead of the day, winning in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (3), over the Indiana pairing of Sigrid Fischer and Myriam Sopel at the second position. Junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota finished off the clean sweep on center court with a solid, 8-6, triumph over the IU combo of Alba Berdala and Katya Zapadaleva.
The 45th-ranked Whoriskey picked up the pace in singles play, scoring a dominating, 6-0, 6-0, victory in just 45 minutes over Zapadaleva at the top of the lineup. The East Sandwich, Mass., native used a deadly combination of power and finesse to earn her 14th win of the season. She pounded out six aces in the contest, including four in one game alone.
"Caitlin played extremely well today," Patrick said. "She had a really good week of practice and did a great job of translating that into success on the court this afternoon. When she has all of her weapons working for her, like she did today, she is one of the best players in the nation."
Not long after, Pluskota put the Lady Vols up by a three spot, tallying a straight-set, 6-1, 6-2, triumph over Charlotte Martin on court two. The win marked her 14th of the season as well, and moved her dual-match record to 5-1. Needing just one more point for the team victory, Tennessee turned to Alda to seal the deal. The Round Rock, Texas, native did not disappoint, winning her first set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (3), before cruising to victory with a 6-1, triumph in the second frame.
"Rosa had some real breakthroughs in practice this past week," Patrick said. "She has been slowly gaining confidence which has really made an impact in her play on the court, as evidenced by her match today."
Despite the fact that the outcome of the match had already been decided, the Big Orange refused to move its foot off the gas pedal, finishing off its first sweep of the season with victories on the third, fifth and sixth courts.
Senior Samantha Orlin, ranked 112th in the nation, made it 5-0 in favor of the Big Orange with a three-set, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, triumph over Berdala in the No. 4 slot in the lineup before Meredith scored UT's sixth point with the team's second shutout of the day, as she blanked Matter, 6-0, 6-0, on court six. Zubor completed the sweep at the fifth position, outlasting Stuckey in a third-set tiebreaker, 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (14-12).
Tennessee will be back in action on Sunday when it welcomes No. 51 Yale to Rocky Top for a Noon showdown. Following that match, the Lady Vols will have another long layoff, this time 11 days, before opening the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, against No. 67 Mississippi State.
"Yale just won the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships and beat a really good Princeton team last weekend," Patrick said. "They have some talented players, so we know we have our work cut out for us on Sunday."
|1.||No. 45 Caitlin Whoriskey (Tennessee)||def.||Katya Zapadaleva (Indiana)||6-0, 6-0|
|2.||Natalie Pluskota (Tennessee)||def.||Charlotte Martin (Indiana)||6-1, 6-2|
|3.||Samantha Orlin (Tennessee)||def.||Alba Berdala (Indiana)||6-3, 3-6, 6-2|
|4.||Rosalía Alda (Tennessee)||def.||Sigrid Fischer (Indiana)||7-6 (3), 6-1|
|5.||Zsófia Zubor (Tennessee)||def.||Lindsey Fischer (Indiana)||5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (12)|
|6.||Jennifer Meredith (Tennessee)||def.||Megan Matter (Indiana)||6-0, 6-0|
|1.||Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (Tennessee)||def.||Alba Berdala/Katya Zapadaleva (Indiana)||8-6|
|2.||Rosalía Alda/Jennifer Meredith (Tennessee)||def.||Sigrid Fischer/Myriam Sopel (Indiana)||9-8 (3)|
|3.||Maria Sorbello/Zsófia Zubor (Tennessee)||def.||Megan Matter/Lindsey Stuckey (Indiana)||8-5|
Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,2,4*,3,6,5)