March 6, 2011
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
AUBURN, Ala. - The No. 18-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 6-1 victory against Auburn this afternoon at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.
The win gives Lady Vol co-head coach Mike Patrick 400 career victories at Tennessee. Now in his 24th season with the Orange and White, Patrick took some time to reflect on his tenure.
"There have been a lot of matches," Patrick said. "I reflect back and think of all the good times and fun moments that I've had. I remember some of the great victories we've had over the years. I'm excited for this team to build on this and see what we can do at the end of the year."
In its first outdoor match of the season, UT showed very little rust. Patrick said he wasn't surprised with how his team adjusted to the outdoor game, even if the temperatures were a bit cold for outdoor play.
"The forecast showed sunny and 57, but it stayed cloudy and cold," Patrick said. "They were difficult conditions, especially without having played outdoors. We learned a lot of things today and I give our team a lot of credit for hanging in there. They did a good job and fought hard."
Tennessee (7-3, 1-0) got back in the win column thanks to strong play from top to bottom. The Big Orange started out by sweeping all three doubles matches from Auburn. Jennifer Meredith and Kata Szekely clinched the doubles point for UT by winning their eighth straight match, a team-high for this season.
In singles, senior Maria Sorbello put UT up 2-0 with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Jacqueline Kasler at No. 4 singles. No. 53-ranked Natalie Pluskota defeated Paulina Schippers at No. 1, 6-4, 6-2. A win from Kata Szekely at No. 3 singles clinched UT's seventh victory of the 2010-11 campaign.
Patrick said that getting off to a good start in SEC play is always critical.
"This conference is really competitive," Patrick said. "Even though we won fairly easily today, it was competitive and tough and it will help us get ready for our next match."
UT is back in action against Kentucky on Friday in Knoxville. First serve is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
Fans are reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UTLadyVols.
#18 Tennessee 6, Auburn 1
1. #53 Natalie Pluskota (TENN) def. Paulina Schippers (AUB) 6-4, 6-2
2. Olivia Bennett (AUB) def. #103 Rosalía Alda (TENN) 5-7, 7-6, 1-0
3. Kata Szekely (TENN) def. Caroline Thornton (AUB) 6-3, 6-3
4. Maria Sorbello (TENN) def. Jacqueline Kasler (AUB) 6-0, 6-2
5. Millie Nichols (TENN) def. Plamena Kurteva (AUB) 7-5, 6-3
6. Whitney Wofford (TENN) def. Taylor Schreimann (AUB) 7-6, 6-2
1. #64 Natalie Pluskota/Millie Nichols (TENN) def. Olivia Bennett/Jacqueline Kasler (AUB) 8-3
2. Rosalía Alda/Maria Sorbello (TENN) def. Plamena Kurteva/Paulina Schippers (AUB) 8-1
3. Kata Szekely/Jennifer Meredith (TENN) def. Caroline Thornton/Taylor Schreimann (AUB) 8-1
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,1,3,6,5,2)