March 12, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A pair of dramatic victories from junior Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.) helped lead the 31st-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team to a dramatic 4-3 road victory over No. 19 South Carolina on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks are the highest-ranked team that the Big Orange has defeated this season.
Griffith and junior Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K.) clinched the all-important doubles point with a heart-pounding 9-8 (14-12) victory at the No. 2 position against Christyn Lucas and Danielle Wiggins. As the other two doubles contests were split between the squads, the result of this match determined who would receive the doubles tally.
First to finish was the No. 3 match, which saw the Lady Vol freshman duo of Stephanie Harris (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Samantha Orlin (Miami, Fla.) drop an 8-5 decision to Miranda Gutierrez and Megan McGavock. Tennessee earned a win at court one after senior Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio) and sophomore Ghizela Schutte (Ninapark, South Africa) defeated Gira Schofield and Natasa Vuckovic, 8-3.
Tennessee took a 2-0 advantage when Schutte's singles opponent, Lucas, retired in the second set of their match at court four. At No. 2, Schaub dropped a 6-1, 6-2 decision to Vuckovic, ranked 88th nationally. UT moved to within one point from the team victory when Orlin dispatched McGavock at No. 5 by 6-4, 6-2 scores.
Unfortunately for the Lady Vols, even with a 3-1 lead, the remaining three singles matches at courts one, three and six all saw the respective Tennessee player drop the first set. At No. 1, Jones would lose to No. 60 Schofield, 6-2, 6-2, and Harris fell to Gutierrez on the sixth court after losing a heartbreaking first set, 7-6 (7-1), 6-0.
Moments later, with all focus on her match, Griffith rallied to win the second set to force a deciding third stanza. She kept her momentum going at an impressively high level with a dominating third-set victory, topping Wiggins, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.
The win moved Tennessee to 6-7, 3-1 in SEC play, good for a third-place tie in the overall SEC standings, behind 4-0 Florida and Vanderbilt. USC dropped to 8-4, 2-2 SEC, with its setback.
The Lady Vols welcome a top-10 opponent to Knoxville, Tenn., on Wednesday as the No. 10 Texas Longhorns (7-5 with a match versus at No. 20 William & Mary on Monday) play against the Big Orange at 5 p.m. Tennessee returns to SEC play on March 24, welcoming No. 39 Alabama (currently 5-5, 3-1 SEC) for a 5 p.m. contest.
#31 Tennessee 4, #19 South Carolina 3
|1.||#60 Gira Schofield (USC) def. Victoria Jones (TN)||6-2, 6-2|
|2.||#88 Natasa Vuckovic (USC) def. Melissa Schaub (TN)||6-1, 6-2|
|3.||Blakeley Griffith (TN) def. Danielle Wiggins (USC)||1-6, 6-2, 6-1|
|4.||Ghizela Schutte (TN) def. Christyn Lucas (USC)||6-1, 2-0, retired|
|5.||Samantha Orlin (TN) def. Megan McGavock (USC)||6-4, 6-2|
|6.||Miranda Gutierrez (USC) def. Stephanie Harris (TN)||7-6 (7-1), 6-0|
|1.||Melissa Schaub/Ghizela Schutte (TN) def. Gira Schofield/Natasa Vuckovic (USC)||8-3|
|2.||Blakeley Griffith/Victoria Jones (TN) def. Christyn Lucas/Danielle Wiggins (USC)||9-8 (14-12)|
|3.||Miranda Gutierrez/Megan McGavock (USC) def. Stephanie Harris/Samantha Orlin (TN)||8-5|
Tennessee 6-7, 3-1 SEC; National ranking #31 South Carolina 8-4, 2-2 SEC; National ranking #19 Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (4,2,5,1,6,3)