March 17, 2004
Coming off a victory over No. 18 Notre Dame in their last match, the 29th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols came up just short of taking out another top-20 squad in women's tennis, falling to No. 11 Texas, 4-3, at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center on Wednesday. The Longhorns have now won seven consecutive matches and boast a record of 11-1, while the Lady Vols fall to 9-9 on the season.
Texas claimed the first victory in doubles, as the tandem of Petra Dizdar and Mia Marovic defeated sophomore Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla.) and junior Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky.), 8-2, at the No. 2 position. The Lady Vols, however, would quickly even things up as the duo of juniors Majen Immink (Kent, U.K.) and Breanna Kray (Surrey, B.C., Canada) downed Kelly Baritot and Ristine Olson by a count of 8-3 at No. 3 doubles. Immink and Kray now own a record of 8-3 this season.
With the doubles point resting solely upon the remaining match on court No. 1, the Lady Vol pair of senior Tammy Encina (Miami Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio) registered an 8-5 victory over Katherin Ruckert and Kandra Strohm to claim a 1-0 lead for Tennessee. The triumph gives Encina and Schaub their fifth win in the last six matches.
The Longhorns, however, would strike first in singles play, as Marovic downed freshman Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.), 7-5, 6-2, at the No. 4 spot to tie the match score at 1-1. Despite the loss, Griffith still owns a team-best 25-8 record in singles.
In the next singles match to finish, Ruckert downed 73rd-ranked Maharaj in three sets at the No. 2 position to give Texas a 2-1 lead in the contest. After dropping the first set, 2-6, Ruckert battled back to take the remaining sets, 6-4, 6-0.
The Lady Vols tied the match at 2-2, thanks to a victory by Robards over Strohm at the No. 3 spot. Robards battled back from a 5-7 defeat in the first set to win the match with 6-1 triumphs in the final two sets. After missing two matches earlier this season because of injury, Robards has now won five of her last six singles contests.
Texas would re-gain the lead, though, with a three-set win by 11th-ranked Dizdar over 24th-ranked Encina at No. 1 singles. After claiming the first set, 6-4, then dropping the second, 4-6, Dizdar outlasted Encina, 6-2, in the final set to win the match.
The Longhorns then clinched the match, when Baritot notched a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Immink at No. 5 singles. For Immink, the loss ended a seven-match win streak, as the junior now owns a record of 16-7 this season.
In the final singles match, Lady Vol freshman Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K.) recorded a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olson at the No. 6 slot. Jones now boasts a six-match win streak and overall record of 17-9 this year.
Of Tennessee's nine losses this year, seven have come by scores of 3-4. Additionally, in their first 18 matches of the season, the Lady Vols have faced 16 ranked opponents and 12 teams that received bids to the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee now has just two remaining home matches this season, as the Lady Vols play host to No. 37 Ole Miss on Friday at 5 p.m. and Mississippi State on Sunday at 1 p.m. After this weekend, UT will have to hit the road for its five remaining SEC matches. During the first of those trips, Tennessee will take on No. 30 South Carolina on Fri., March 26 and No. 3 Florida on Sun., March 28.