March 18, 2005

Box Score

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - On the strength of a comeback victory in doubles play, the 23rd-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis squad rode the momentum to a 6-1 victory over No. 25 Notre Dame on Friday night. The Orange and White took wins in five-of-six singles contests, including another victory over a ranked foe for junior Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla. / Buchholz H.S.). The Big Orange has won 10-of-11 contests and is 10-3 on the season, while the Fighting Irish fall to 6-7.

Setting the stage for the dramatic doubles match at No. 3 were two 8-4 results won by each team. At No. 1, UND's Catrina Thompson and Kristina Stastny topped Tennessee's pair of Maharaj and freshman Bryce Marable (Darien, Ill. / Hinsdale South H.S.), playing together for the first time, while junior Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio / Lexington H.S.) teamed with freshman Ghizela Schutte (Ninapark, South Africa / Damelin College) for a victory over Brook Buck and Lauren Connelly. Schaub and Schutte were teammates the first four dual-match contests and are now 2-3 on the season.

In the No. 3 contest, senior Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky. / Henderson County H.S.) and sophomore Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va. / Loudoun County H.S.) rallied from a 7-3 deficit to secure the next five games and an 8-7 advantage before the Fighting Irish duo of Sarah Jane Connelly and Jennifer Smith forced a tiebreaker with its eighth game. The Lady Vols would not relent in the extra game, taking control with a 6-1 advantage in the tiebreaker and prevailing, 7-2. Robards and Griffith last paired up at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships from Jan. 14-16, going 3-0 at that tournament.



Singles play quickly played out in a fashion where a Tennessee team win looked to be safe from the outset. Two Lady Vols took 6-1 victories in the initial set, while two others had commanding 6-3 wins. The first contest to be completed saw sophomore Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K. / South Tyneside College) quickly top Connelly, 6-1, 6-1, to give the Big Orange a 2-0 advantage. Jones has now won 11-of-12 contests.

Giving UT a 3-0 lead, Marable quickly dispatched Stastny in the No. 3 match, 6-3, 6-0. She has claimed 8-of-9 matches.

Notre Dame got one team point back as Buck, ranked 59th nationally, outscored Griffith, 6-3, 6-1, to take the No. 2 contest. UT led, 3-1, at this point.

A Lady Vol victory was secured with Maharaj's win at No. 1. The Gainesville, Fla., native, ranked 44th, topped No. 39 Thompson, 6-1, 6-3, for her sixth consecutive victory. In that span, Maharaj has claimed three decisions over ranked opposition, including a dramatic 0-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over then-No. 6 Robin Stephenson of Alabama and a commanding 6-2, 6-1 victory over Arkansas' No. 79 Maryori Franco.

Then within a couple seconds of each other, the Big Orange tallied its final two points of the 6-1 victory. At court No. 5, Robards defeated Liz Donahue, 7-6, 6-2, improving to 6-1 on the season, before Schutte topped Sarah Jane Connelly in the No. 6 contest, 6-1, 7-6. The South African native has claimed four straight decisions.

"It was a good day, great day to play outside," Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "The team responded well, beat a good Notre Dame. We're real happy with our effort. Sabita got another win playing a ranked foe. It was a good job for Blakeley and Ashley to come back and get it done (at No. 3 doubles). By making that comeback, it gave us a lot of confidence going into the singles part of the match.

The Orange and White hit the road for a three-match road trip, taking on No. 13 Texas at 5:30 p.m. CST on Wednesday before returning to Southeastern Conference action, playing No. 51 Ole Miss at 4 p.m. CST next Friday and No. 36 Mississippi State at 1 p.m. CST on March 27.

#23 Tennessee 6, #25 Notre Dame 1

Singles competition:
1. #44 Sabita Maharaj (UT) def. #39 Catrina Thompson (UND) 6-1, 6-3
2. #59 Brook Buck (UND) def. Blakeley Griffith (UT) 6-3, 6-1
3. Bryce Marable (UT) def. Kristina Stastny (UND) 6-3, 6-0
4. Victoria Jones (UT) def. Lauren Connelly (UND) 6-1, 6-1
5. Ashley Robards (UT) def. Liz Donohue (UND) 7-6, 6-2
6. Ghizela Schutte (UT) def. Sarah Jane Connelly (UND) 6-1, 7-6

Doubles competition:
1. Catrina Thompson/Kristina Stastny (UND) def. Sabita Maharaj/Bryce Marable (UT) 8-4
2. Melissa Schaub/Ghizela Schutte (UT) def. Brook Buck/Lauren Connelly (UND) 8-4
3. Blakeley Griffith/Ashley Robards (UT) def. Sarah Jane Connelly/Jennifer Smith (UND) 9-8 (7-2)

Match Notes:
Notre Dame 6-7; National ranking #25
Tennessee 10-3; National ranking #23
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,3,2,1,5,6)



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