TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Despite a late comeback attempt by the Crimson Tide, No. 16 Tennessee picked up its first SEC win of the season, defeating No. 46 Alabama, 4-3, Sunday at Alabama Tennis Stadium.
"I'm very proud of our team," head coach Alison Ojeda said. "We have improved each of The last three matches, and it showed today both physically and mentally. I'm incredibly proud of Eve's courage, Brit's determination, Sadie's ability to stay positive and focused, Ari's ability to just keep fighting and trust herself, Jo's ability to just continue to improve and fight, Gabby's ability to develop as a match is being played, and Kim and Ashley's ability to stay focused on their development while being their teammates' biggest fans."
The Vols (14-4, 1-3 SEC) grabbed the early lead in the match, clinching the doubles point with wins on Courts 2 and 3. Singles went back and forth between the two teams. Tied at 2-2, UT surged ahead and clinched the match over the Crimson Tide (6-8, 0-4 SEC), with wins on Courts 4 and 5.
"The girls played with a lot of fire today against Alabama," assistant coach Ty Schaub said. "We were relentless in the bottom half of the lineup, and Ariadna Riley came through for us with one of the more clutch performances I have seen in a while."
In doubles, the freshmen duo of Ariadna Riley and Johanna Silva cruised to a 6-1 victory over Juliana Valero and Andie Daniell. The team of Sadie Hammond and Gabby Schuck gave UT the early 1-0 lead, edging Danielle Spielmann and Smith Hinton, 6-4.
"I love playing for Tennessee because the whole team, including our managers, athletic trainers, etc., is just amazing," Silva said. "Everybody is giving 100 percent to achieve our goals.The atmosphere off the court and the energy on the court are great. I couldn't be happier with this school or the team."
Schuck got things going early in singles, downing Juliana Valero, 6-0, 6-4, on Court 6 to give the Volunteers a 2-0 lead. Alabama stormed back, though, winning the matches on Courts 1 and 3 to tie things up at 2-2.
"I am so proud of our team for our fight, heart and passion out there today," Schuck said. "We have been working so hard and are continually getting better everyday, and it's awesome to see it pay off, especially after being super competitive and close in all of our other SEC matches. I can't wait for the upcoming matches and continuing to grow with this team and represent Tennessee in the best way possible."
The momentum shifted back into Tennessee's favor when Silva took down Maddie Pothoff, 7-6 (6), 6-1, to regain the lead. Riley quickly followed suit and clinched the match for UT after outlasting Smith Hinton in a tight 7-6 (4), 7-5 match on Court 4.
"Clinching today's match was an incredible feeling," Riley said. "Our team has been working ridiculously hard these past few months. I knew as soon as I stepped on the court that I was going to win for my school and teammates. I wanted to fight as hard as I could to make our team as proud of me as I am of them. I'm excited for what the rest of this season has in store for us and can only thank our staff, team and school for allowing me this opportunity."
Tennessee stays on the road next weekend, heading to South Carolina on Friday for a 5 p.m. match and then to Florida on Sunday for a 1 p.m. contest.
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee women's tennis program, follow @Vol_WTennis on Twitter.
No. 16 Tennessee 4, No. 46 Alabama 3
1. #59 Erin Routliffe (UA) def. #51 Brittany Lindl (UT), 7-5, 6-3
2. #124 Andie Daniell (UA) def. Sadie Hammond (UT), 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
3. Danielle Spielmann (UA) def. Eve Repic (UT) 6-4, 6-4
4. Ariadna Riley (UT) def. Smith Hinton (UA), 7-6 (4), 7-5
5. Johanna Silva (UT) def. Maddie Pothoff (UA), 7-6 (6), 6-1
6. Gabby Schuck (UT) def. Juliana Valero (UA), 6-0, 6-4
1. #74 Lindl/Repic (UT) vs. #25 Routliffe/Pothoff (UA), 4-4 unf.
2. Hammond/Schuck (UT) def. Spielmann/Hinton (UA), 6-4
3. Riley/Silva (UT) def. Valero/Daniell (UA), 6-1
Order of Finish: Doubles (3, 2); Singles (6, 3, 1, 5, 4, 2)