Tammy Encina defeated No. 70 Aleke Tsoubanos
March 2, 2003
After a heart-wrenching one-point loss to No. 18 Kentucky on Friday, the No. 10 University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis squad bounced back with a 4-3 triumph over ninth-rated Vanderbilt on Sunday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville. The win upped UT's record to 9-3 and 1-1 in SEC play, while Vandy dropped to 9-3 and 0-2 in the league.
The Lady Vols dominated the doubles for the second-straight match, sweeping all three positions. The first victory came from junior Tammy Encina and sophomore Majen Immink at No. 2, where they notched an 8-4 decision over sophomore Audra Falk and junior Kelly Schmandt to move to 5-0 on the year.
The clincher came at No. 3 from senior Crystal Cleveland and freshman Sabita Maharaj, who teamed up for the first time in their careers. The duo held a commanding 6-1 advantage over sophomore Annie Menees and freshman Ashley Schellhas before letting the opposition run off four games in a row to put the contest back on serve. With Schellhas serving down 7-6, UT quickly found itself with double break point and on the next serve Maharaj hit a laser directly at Menees that she only managed to graze with the frame of her racket, giving Tennessee the 8-6 triumph and a 1-0 lead.
At No. 1 doubles, the nation's 17th-rated combo of UT senior Vilmarie Castellvi and freshman Melissa Schaub shocked the third-ranked tandem of senior Sarah Riske and junior Aleke Tsoubanos, 8-5. Riske and Tsoubanos were 19-2 heading into the matchup. Castellvi and Schaub improved to 17-3 with the win and 10-2 at No. 1 doubles.
"In my 16 years at Tennessee, I have never seen all three doubles teams play that well at the same time," said Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick. "Vanderbilt has very strong doubles and what we did out there was simply unbelievable."
Encina rebounded from her tough loss on Friday night with a dominating upset of No. 70 Tsoubanos at two singles, 6-3, 6-0, to give the Orange and White a 2-0 advantage. The Miami Beach, Fla., native upped her record to 15-10 and 7-5 at the No. 2 slot with the win.
The Commodores sliced UT's margin in half after Schmandt walked past Schaub at No. 3 singles, 6-0, 6-0. It was Schaub's second-straight defeat and downed her record on the season to 15-10 and 9-3 at the third position.
At No. 4, 99th-tabbed Cleveland registered the Lady Vols' third upset on the afternoon when she upended No. 48 Falk in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, for her ninth consecutive conquest. Cleveland trailed early in the second set, 3-1, but proceeded to mesmerize Falk with her unorthodox and dynamic strokes and constant change in the pace of play. Cleveland's record improved to 19-7 with the win and 10-2 in dual match competition.
Needing only one more point for its first SEC victory in 2003, Tennessee turned to Castellvi at No. 1 singles. The Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, native lived up to her No. 3 national billing by adding 12th-rated Riske to her ever-growing list of victims by a 6-4, 6-0 count. Castellvi is now 23-3 versus ranked opponents and 26-4 overall. She is also 11-1 at one singles.
The Commodores tallied the next two points, the first of which came when Schellhas posted a 6-3, 6-2 decision over Maharaj at No. 5 singles. The afternoon concluded at six singles, where Immink came out on the short end against Menees, 6-3, 6-3.
Next up on the Lady Vols' docket is a road trip to Alabama, where they will face Nos. 32 and 31 Alabama and Auburn on March 7 and 9. The Alabama match is scheduled for 3 p.m. CST, while Tennessee will play Auburn at noon CST. UT holds the edge over the Crimson Tide with a 23-10 record and the Tigers as well at 19-6.