March 8, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 12 University of Tennessee women's tennis team (8-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) completed the weekend sweep of Magnolia State schools, holding off a hard-charging Ole Miss (4-4, 0-2 SEC) squad by the score of 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at the UT Varsity Courts in Knoxville, Tenn.
"I'm very proud of the way our team fought against a really good Ole Miss team today," UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "We had some tough stretches in singles but we were able to overcome them, finish strong and get some very good wins over some quality players. We could not be happier about starting out our SEC schedule with two wins, but we need to continue to get better each and every day in practice this week. We've got three tough road matches in front of us, so we have to continue to prepare ourselves to play to the best of our abilities."
For the fifth consecutive match, the Big Orange won the doubles point to notch the initial lead of the contest, but Ole Miss did not make it easy to do so. Although senior Samantha Orlin and sophomore Maria Sorbello were able to pick up a quick, 8-4, victory over the Rebel duo of Mimi Renaudin and Laura van de Stroet at the second position, the other two contests were both hard-fought battles.
While the Tennessee tandem of junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota eventually won its match over the nation's 28th-ranked pairing of Kristi Boxx and Karen Nijssen, 8-6, it took quite an effort. With the score tied at 6-6, the Lady Vols were able to break Nijssen's serve when she hit a backhand into the net on UT's third chance at break point. That unforced error gave Whoriskey the opportunity to serve for the match and she took full advantage, winning four straight points to close out the contest and secure the lead for the Orange and White.
The victory improved Whoriskey and Pluskota's record to a perfect 5-0 on the season and marked the duo's second win over a nationally-ranked squad. It could not have come at a better time either, as the Rebels claimed victory on court three just moments later, when Abby Guthrie and Gabriela Rangel defeated the UT team of junior Zsófia Zubor and sophomore Jennifer Meredith, 8-6.
The start of singles play did not go quite as smoothly as the Orange and White would have liked, as the Rebels jumped out to early leads on five of the six courts. UT was able to right the ship fairly quickly though, bouncing back to win the opening sets in three matches. It would be a back-and-forth contest the rest of the way, with five of the six singles matches going to the full three sets.
Zubor was the lone player to finish off her opponent in straight sets, downing Soledad Podlipnik, 6-3, 6-1 on court six to increase the UT advantage to 2-0. From that point on, nothing came easy for the Lady Vols. Sophomore Rosalía Alda was the next to finish, recording an impressive come-from-behind, 4-6, 6-0, 6-0, victory over Rangel at the No. 4 position. After dropping the first set, the Round Rock, Texas, native did not lose another game en route to her 11th win of the season.
Needing just one more point for the win, the Big Orange turned to its lone senior, Orlin, on court three. The Miami, Fla., native did not disappoint, moving her winning streak to a team-best seven contests with her second match-clinching win of the year, a 6-2, 1-6, 6-1, triumph over van de Stroet. She also tallied the clinching point in UT's 5-2 victory over No. 28 Virginia at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Indoor Qualifier in her hometown on Jan. 31.
Rounding out the scoring for the Orange and White were Pluskota and Meredith with wins at the second and fifth singles positions, respectively. A freshman from Newnan, Ga., Pluskota improved her overall record to a squad-best 17-8 with her second career win over a ranked player, downing No. 62 Nijssen, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Meredith, also from the Peach State as she hails from Marietta, followed up that performance with a gutsy, 0-6, 6-3, 6-2, win over Guthrie to put the Lady Vols up 6-0.
The Rebels finally got on the scoreboard in the final match of the afternoon, with the 60th-ranked Boxx earning her second win over a ranked player of the weekend, outlasting No. 57 Whoriskey in a third-set super tiebreaker, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (8). Boxx also defeated the top player from the University of Georgia, No. 6-ranked Chelsey Gullickson, in a 6-1 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday.
Tennessee will take its five-match winning streak away from Rocky Top next weekend when it hits the road for the first time in over a month. UT will first travel to Columbia, S.C., for a 2 p.m. showdown with No. 29 South Carolina on Friday, March 13, before moving on to the Sunshine State for a pair of contests. The Orange and White will take on SEC foe and No. 31 Florida at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 and UCF at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
|1. No. 60 Kristi Boxx (OM) def. No. 57 Caitlin Whoriskey (UT)||1-6, 7-6 (5), 1-0 (8)|
|2. Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. No. 62 Karen Nijssen (OM)||4-6, 6-1, 6-4|
|3. Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Laura van de Stroet (OM)||6-2, 1-6, 6-1|
|4. Rosalía Alda (UT) def. Gabriela Rangel (OM)||4-6, 6-0, 6-0|
|5. Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Abby Guthrie (OM)||0-6, 6-3, 6-2|
|6. Zsófia Zubor (UT) def. Soledad Podlipnik (OM)||6-3, 6-1|
|1. Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. No. 28 Kristi Boxx/Karen Nijssen (OM)||8-6|
|2. Samantha Orlin/Maria Sorbello (UT) def. Mimi Renaudin/Laura van de Stroet (OM)||8-4|
|3. Abby Guthrie/Gabriela Rangel (OM) def. Jennifer Meredith/Zsófia Zubor (UT)||8-6|
|Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,4,3*,5,2,1)|