March 21, 2012
LAS VEGAS - Playing shorthanded, the 12th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team suffered a 4-3 setback at No. 67 UNLV on Wednesday afternoon at the Fertitta Tennis Complex, wrapping up UT's non-conference slate.
But playing at the top of the lineup for the first time in her career, Szekely dropped a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 decision to 59th-ranked Lucia Batta, which clinched the Rebels' victory.
"It was just a tough battle," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "It's tough when you have to move two spots up the lineup to play one. The girl she played was good. I think she learned some things in the match today and she's pulled out a lot of matches for us. It's just unfortunate that it didn't go her way today."
Joanna Henderson scored a 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 win over Manon de Lanlay to complete the scoring.
Already playing without Natalie Pluskota (injury) and Brynn Boren (illness), the top two players in the singles lineup, the Lady Vols' woes continued when Caitlyn Williams was forced to default due to injury.
"I thought we had great effort," Hahn-Patrick said. "It's just unfortunate that we weren't able to play at full strength. We saw a lot of improvement in the ones that were competing and we'll get ready for Friday."
Pluskota and Williams, however, played doubles helping Tennessee to its 15th doubles point in 17 matches.
For the second consecutive match and fifth time this season, the Lady Vols (11-6) swept the doubles point on all three courts.
Grace and Sarah Toti put on a strong performance, defeating Lucia Batta and Manon de Lanlay, 8-2. Toti's 26th win of the season moved her into a three-way tie for sixth place on UT's all-time freshman doubles win list with Rosalia Alda and Zsofia Zubor.
Williams and Henderson clinched the doubles point for UT with an 8-4 win over Ella Bourchier and Anett Ferenczi-Bako, while Pluskota and Szekely capped the sweep moments later with the same advantage against Aleksandra Josifoska and Nives Pavlovic.
Pluskota's 97th career doubles win is tied for the eighth-most in program history with Vilmarie Castellvi.
Forfeiting the No. 6 position followed by Williams' subsequent default gave UNLV a 2-1 advantage that the Rebels wouldn't relinquish.
UNLV (9-5) pushed its lead to 3-1 as No. 125 Josifoska defeated Toti 6-2, 6-2.
Tennessee returns to action Friday at No. 49 LSU for a 4 p.m. ET start, and will host No. 37 Arkansas on Sunday at 1 p.m.
#67 UNLV 4, #12 Tennessee 3
1. #59 Lucia Batta (UNLV) def. #37 Kata Szekely (UT) 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2
2. #125 Aleksandra Josifoska (UNLV) def. Sarah Toti (UT) 6-2, 6-2
3. Nives Pavlovic (UNLV) def. Caitlyn Williams (UT) 4-3, ret.
4. Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Manon de Lanlay (UNLV) 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2
5. Jesse Grace (UT) def. Anett Ferenczi-Bako (UNLV) 7-5, 6-2
6. Ella Bourchier (UNLV) by default
1. #21 Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (UT) def. Aleksandra Josifoska/Nives Pavlovic (UNLV) 8-4
2. Sarah Toti/Jesse Grace (UT) def. Lucia Batta/Manon de Lanlay (UNLV) 8-2
3. Joanna Henderson/Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Ella Bourchier/Anett Ferenczi-Bako (UNLV) 8-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2, 3, 1); Singles (6, 3, 2, 5, 1, 4)
Records: Tennessee (11-6), UNLV (9-5)