March 11, 2012
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Another opponent, another shutout for the eighth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team.
Tennessee (11-5, 2-2 SEC) defeated Mississippi State, 7-0, Sunday afternoon at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre for its fifth shutout of the season.
"Considering the circumstances, I thought we competed hard," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "It was windy, but we toughed it out and played well."
The Lady Vols registered the doubles point for the 14th time in 16 matches, and used singles wins from Brynn Boren, Kata Szekely and Sarah Toti to clinch the win, before the rest of the team followed suit.
UT was dominant throughout, sweeping doubles play and winning 12 of 13 singles sets, including the first set on each of the bottom five courts.
The shutout over the Lady Bulldogs (4-7, 0-4 SEC) was in danger when 91st-ranked Alexandra Perper topped 28th-ranked Natalie Pluskota in the opening set, 6-2.
But Pluskota was determined to record her 50th career victory. She stormed back to return the favor with a 6-2 second set, and then capped the rally with a 7-5 third-set victory.
Pluskota's comeback put UT in front 6-0, while Jesse Grace's second career victory (7-5, 6-3) sealed the shutout effort.
"Anytime you have a win, I think that helps your confidence," Hahn-Patrick said. "Hopefully, that starts our foundation to continue to do better. We get a little break, which will give our girls some time to recover and get ready to work on some things before we have to play."
While the tandem finished up Tennessee's work in singles, they led the way for the Lady Vols in doubles.
For the second straight Sunday and the fourth time this season, Tennessee was victorious on all three courts in doubles action.
With an 8-1 win over Roseline Dion and Petra Ferancova, Pluskota moved into sole possession of ninth place all-time on the UT career chart with 96 career victories, while the duo's domination marked Grace's first career victory.
Pluskota wasn't the only one to make a move in the UT record books.
Toti and Boren clinched UT's doubles point for a team-best ninth time this season, defeating 44th-ranked Alexandra Perper and Olesya Tsigvintseva, 8-5.
With her 25th doubles win in 2011-12, Toti moved into a tie for eighth all-time among UT freshmen with Brooke Cordell (2001).
But Tennessee's work was far from done.
Boren and Szekely each won for the sixth time in seven matches to give the Lady Vols a 3-0 lead. It was the third straight UT win and fourth time overall that Boren scored UT's first singles win of the contest.
Toti snapped a three-match losing streak, defeating Tran 6-0, 7-5 for her third match-clinching point of her rookie campaign.
Fellow freshman Joanna Henderson also snapped a three-match skid, defeating Petra Ferancova 6-4, 7-6 (4).
From there, Pluskota and Grace finished what they started.
Tennessee has next weekend off and returns to action on Wednesday, March 21, wrapping up its non-conference schedule at UNLV.
"We'll work on some things that a lot of times you don't have time to work on during the week because you have to compete during the weekend," Hahn-Patrick said. "We'll work on some individual things and fundamentals to get ourselves ready."
#8 Tennessee 7, Mississippi State 0
1. #28 Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. #91 Andrea Perper (MSU) 2-6, 6-2, 7-5
2. #35 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Ekaterina Iakovleva (MSU) 6-1, 6-1
3. #37 Kata Szekely (UT) def. Olesya Tsigvintseva (MSU) 6-1, 6-3
4. Sarah Toti (UT) def. Naomi Tran (MSU) 6-0, 7-5
5. Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Petra Ferancova (MSU) 6-4, 7-6 (4)
6. Jesse Grace (UT) def. Roseline Dion (MSU) 7-5, 6-3
1. #10 Brynn Boren/Sarah Toti (UT) def. #44 Alexandra Perper/Olesya Tsigvintseva (MSU) 8-5
2. Joanna Henderson/Kata Szekely (UT) def. Naomi Tran/Ekaterina Iakovleva (MSU) 8-5
3. Natalie Pluskota/Jesse Grace (UT) def. Roseline Dion/Petra Ferancova (MSU) 8-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 1, 2); Singles (2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 6)
Records: Tennessee (11-5, 2-2 SEC), Mississippi State (4-7, 0-4 SEC)