March 2, 2012
KNOXVILLE - Facing 15th-ranked Florida, which returned its entire roster from its 2011 National Championship squad, the No. 5 Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team lost for just the second time in its last 11 matches, 7-0, Friday at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in the SEC opener for both teams.
"(The match) did not work out to well for us today," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "They are a better team. They have more experienced players and our freshmen did not handle it well and got out competed in a bunch of spots. It is a learning experience when you get to play a great team like Florida. We have a laundry list of stuff we can work on and get better from so there is a positive there."
The Lady Vols (9-4, 0-1 SEC) couldn't overcome playing without senior Natalie Pluskota in singles and going against a Florida (7-1, 1-0 SEC) singles lineup that features five players ranked in the Top 50.
"Florida should be the number two team in the country right now," Patrick said. "Stanford should be number one and Florida should be number two. Florida and Stanford did not play in the ITA indoors so that moved their rankings a little bit.
Originally scheduled to be played outdoors at Barksdale Stadium, inclement weather moved the match inside.
While Florida took a 6-0 lead, sophomore Brynn Boren attempted to put an end to UF's shutout hopes by becoming the first player in 2012 to knock off top-ranked Allie Will.
"Brynn played great today," Patrick said. "The girl she faced was number one in the country for a reason. She has played a lot of pro events and has a ton of experience. You do not get ranked first because of an accident so Brynn can take something from that match. She lost a little momentum in the tiebreaker in the third, but you learn from those things. Brynn has got to feel good when she looks at the big picture because she controlled her match a lot of the time. She had her opponent on the ropes, she just needs to finish."
Boren led the opening set 4-2, before Will rallied to take the stanza, 6-4. Boren retaliated with a dominating 6-2 second set, which would lead to a 10-point tiebreaker.
On the first point, Boren's shot caused Will to fall. After a 10-minute hiatus, Boren jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Boren extended her lead to 5-3, but Will registered seven of the next eight points to clinch the win and the shutout for the Gators.
"It's always tough," Boren said. "She's number one in the country so she's going to be really good. I played well. I definitely had my chances. I just didn't capitalize off of them. It was definitely a good learning experience."
For the first time in 2012, Tennessee dropped the doubles point, ending a program-record of 12 consecutive doubles points to open a season.
Facing No. 31 Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather, 10th-ranked Boren and Sarah Toti had their 15-match winning streak snapped, also marking their first loss in dual-match play (12-1). Embree and Mather jumped out to a 6-0 lead, and used an 8-2 advantage to bring Florida within one court of notching the point.
On courts two and three, Tennessee's tandems fell behind 3-1, but each won three consecutive games to take 4-3 leads and give the Lady Vols hope of maintaining their stellar doubles streak.
Pluskota, returning from a foot injury to play doubles, teamed with Caitlyn Williams at the top of the lineup. After the ninth-ranked duo took the lead, Sofie Oyen and Allie Will reeled off five straight games to clinch the doubles point for Florida and a 1-0 lead.
In singles play, the Gators gave a glimpse of why they won the NCAA title last season.
Joanna Henderson and Kata Szekely led 5-4, but lost four of the next five games to lose 8-6, snapping their four-match winning streak at the hands of Alexandra Cercone and Olivia Janowicz. Both of their losses in dual-match action have come by three points or less.
UF won in straight sets on courts four, five and six to take a 4-0 lead and clinch the win, via victories from No. 49 Cercone, No. 39 Oyen and Janowicz, respectively.
With the match decided, the Lady Vols dropped courts three, two and one as Tennessee's four-match winning streak was broken. It marks the first time Tennessee has been shutout since Florida did so, 4-0, on two occasions last season. UT wasn't shutout in 2010.
Tennessee returns to action Sunday at Barksdale Stadium against No. 22 South Carolina at 1 p.m. The Gamecocks lost, 4-1, to No. 4 Georgia on Friday and Tennessee has won 10 of the past 12 meetings in the series. Admission to the match is free.
#15 Florida 7, #5 Tennessee 0
1. #1 Allie Will (UF) def. #35 Brynn Boren (UT) 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-6)
2. #23 Lauren Embree (UF) def. #37 Kata Szekely (UT) 6-2, 6-3
3. #18 Joanna Mather (UF) def. Caitlyn Williams (UT) 6-2, 6-3
4. #49 Alexandra Cercone (UF) def. Sarah Toti (UT) 6-3, 6-2
5. #39 Sofie Oyen (UF) def. Joanna Henderson (UT) 6-0, 6-2
6. Olivia Janowicz (UF) def. Jesse Grace (UT) 6-2, 6-0
1. #13 Sofie Oyen/Allie Will (UF) def. #9 Natalie Pluskota/Caitlyn Williams 8-4
2. #31 Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (UF) def. #10 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) 8-2
3. Alexandra Cercone/Olivia Janowicz (UF) def. Joanna Henderson/Kata Szekely (UT) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (2, 1, 3); Singles (6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
Records: Tennessee (9-4), UF (7-1)
Co-head coach Mike Patrick
(On the young group getting experience)
"The freshmen have to understand how hard they have to compete. Brynn Boren took the number one player in the country to a third-set-breaker and Kata Szekely played a girl that has won rounds in grand slams at the number two spot. The rest of the freshmen at spots three, four, five, and six did not handle it well. They got outworked. That is something they will have to learn, that when they play teams like Florida you have to step up your game and become more physical and when they are in the weight room they are going to know why in the next few months."