March 21, 2004
The 29th-ranked University of Tennessee women's tennis team concluded its home season on a strong note, defeating Mississippi State by a score of 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at the UT Varsity Courts. With the win, the Lady Vols improve to 11-9 overall and 5-1 in the Southeastern Conference, while MSU falls to 5-9 overall, 0-6 in the SEC.
Tennessee started off hot in doubles play, as the tandem of senior Tammy Encina (Miami Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio) posted an 8-1 victory over Anastasia Kugakolova and Magdi Rekasi at the No. 1 position. The duo of freshman Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.) and sophomore Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla.) then quickly clinched the doubles point for UT with an 8-4 win at the No. 3 spot.
The Lady Bulldog pair of sisters Hayley and Tarryn Rudman registered MSU's lone doubles victory with an 8-6 triumph over juniors Majen Immink (Kent, U.K.) and Breanna Kray (Surrey, B.C., Canada) at the No. 2 slot.
With temperatures hovering in the upper 40s and wind chills dipping to near 30 degrees, the Lady Vols remained hot in singles play by claiming five of the six individual matches. Griffith started things off for Tennessee with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Rekasi at the No. 3 position. With the win, the freshman improves her team-best singles mark to 27-8.
Next, playing in her final regular-season home match as a Lady Vol, 24th-ranked Encina gave UT a 3-0 lead in the match when she finished off Hirt, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 1 singles.
Freshman Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K.), meanwhile, continued her stellar play, clinching victory for Tennessee with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Hayley Rudman at the No. 5 slot. Jones now boasts a record of 19-9 this season and has won eight consecutive singles matches, a stretch during which the freshman has not even dropped one set.
With the victory already in hand, 73rd-ranked Maharaj provided another win for the Lady Vols with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph at the No. 2 position. Maharaj, who has won eight of her last 10 matches, owns a singles record of 22-10 this year.
In the next singles contest to finish, Immink increased the match score to 6-0 in favor of UT by taking out Tarryn Rudman, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 5 singles. After having a seven-match win streak snapped against No. 11 Texas on Wednesday, Immink has bounced back with two straight victories to improve her record to 18-7.
Finally, Yumi Ueda secured Mississippi State's lone point of the day by outlasting Kray, 4-6, 7-5, (12-10), at the No. 6 spot.
Tennessee now holds a 25-3 advantage in the all-time series versus MSU and has won 20 straight contests in the series, a streak which dates back to 1988.
Up next, 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.