March 9, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. - Playing its sixth straight match without the lineups that saw Tennessee win six out of seven matches earlier this season, the Lady Vol tennis team lost for the first time on the road in 2012, falling 5-2 to No. 25 Ole Miss on Friday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
"It was a disappointing day," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "It's just a tough loss, because I don't really feel like we really played as a team. We have to get better in spots and try to get tougher in spots. Hopefully, we can regroup and be better on Sunday."
While Natalie Pluskota returned to the singles lineup for the first time since Feb. 12 against Northwestern, reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Caitlyn Williams was limited to doubles after aggravating an injury during the early action.
Ole Miss won the doubles point and controlled the bottom-half of the singles lineup to jump out to a 4-0 lead, but the first three positions for the Lady Vols continued to fight.
For the second consecutive match, Szekely won a 10-point third-set tiebreaker, defeating Erin Stephens 6-7 (5), 6-2, 1-0 (4).
Putting UT on the scoreboard, Szekely won for the fifth time in six tries to improve to 17-5 overall and 10-3 in dual-match play. Additionally, Szekely remained undefeated this season in three-set matches (6-0) and tiebreakers (3-0).
Pluskota, meanwhile, had a less favorable third set. Facing No. 22 Kristi Boxx, her highest-ranked opponent in 2012, Pluskota fell 6-1, 2-6, 6-4. The loss put the Rebels ahead, 5-1.
Joining Szekely, Boren also won for the fifth time in six tries, recording her second straight and sixth overall ranked victory in 2011-12. Boren, ranked 35th, defeated No. 63 Caroline Rohde-Moe 7-5, 6-2 and leads the Lady Vols with 18 wins.
"The thing is no matter if they win or lose, they compete hard, they stick with their gameplan and it definitely works for them," Hahn-Patrick said of Boren and Szekely. "They're confident right now and they're playing well."
Boren's match ended play, providing the final 5-2 score in advantage of Ole Miss.
The Lady Vols lost the doubles point for just the second time all season, both coming in the last three matches.
Szekely and Joanna Henderson got UT off to a solid start in doubles, finishing first with an 8-2 win over Rohde-Moe and Iris Verboven, but the Lady Vols lost on courts one and two.
Szekely and Henderson are 10-2 overall and have won nine of those matches by at least five points.
Tennessee returns to action Sunday at Mississippi State for a 2 p.m. start.
#25 Ole Miss 5, #5 Tennessee 2
1. #22 Kristi Boxx (UM) def. #28 Natalie Pluskota (UT) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
2. #35 Brynn Boren (UT) def. #63 Caroline Rohde-Moe (UM) 7-5, 6-2
3. #37 Kata Szekely (UT) def. Erin Stephens (UM) 6-7 (5), 6-2, 1-0 (4)
4. Julia Jones (UM) def. Sarah Toti (UT) 6-2, 6-0
5. Abby Guthrie (UM) def. Joanna Henderson (UT) 6-2, 6-3
6. Iris Verboven (UM) def. Jesse Grace (UT) 6-3, 6-1
1. #7 Kristi Boxx/Abby Guthrie (UM) def. #9 Natalie Pluskota/Caitlyn Williams (UT) 8-2
2. Gabby Rangel/Erin Stephens (UM) def. #10 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) 8-5
3. Joanna Henderson/Kata Szekely (UT) def. Caroline Rohde-Moe/Iris Verboven (UM) 8-2
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 1, 2); Singles (4, 5, 6, 3, 1, 2)
Records: Tennessee (10-5, 1-2 SEC), Ole Miss (9-5, 2-1 SEC)