March 24, 2006


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -­ The No. 24 University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team (8-7, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) earned an impressive 5-2 win over No. 26 Alabama (7-6, 3-2 SEC) on Friday evening at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. The Big Orange took the doubles point, dropped the first two singles matches to be completed and rallied with the last four tallies of the contest for the resounding win. Tennessee has now won three straight and six of seven.

Tennessee claimed the doubles point with wins in the first two matches to be completed. At court two, juniors Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.) and Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K.) defeated Mari Muller and Melissa Day, 8-3. A 5-0 run gave the Lady Vol duo a 6-2 lead. The two have claimed three straight decisions.

Freshmen Samantha Orlin (Miami, Fla.) and Stephanie Harris (Chattanooga, Tenn.) topped Natalie McElveen and Andrea Brenes by an 8-4 score at No. 3. The pair of first-year players put together a pair of 3-0 runs (6-1 cumulative run) to finish off the contest and snap a three-match losing streak.

On the first court, senior Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio) and sophomore Ghizela Schutte (Ninapark, South Africa) fell to the 18th-ranked team of Robin Stephenson and Ashley Bentley, 8-5. After the Lady Vol pair went up, 2-1, UA rallied for three straight games to take control with a 4-2 advantage.

Every singles match was one sided. At court one, Jones dropped a 6-1, 6-1 decision to No. 12 Stephenson, while Schaub was defeated at No. 2 by 86th-ranked Bentley by 6-1, 6-0 scores. On the third court, Griffith tied up the team contest, 2-2, with a convincing 6-1, 6-1 win versus Muller. She has now won three straight.



The fourth court saw Schutte claim a 6-3, 6-1 win over Shelley Godwin. A 3-0 spurt in the first stanza helped the Lady Vol sophomore to the victory, giving Schutte a 5-2 lead. She finished off the second set with five straight games won and has won three in a row.

Now with Tennessee leading, 3-2, all eyes turned towards courts five and six. At that point, Orlin was leading McElveen in the first set, 5-1, while Harris was trailing Day, 2-0, in the first.

Orlin quickly put the result out of reach for Alabama with a 6-1, 6-2 victory. She has claimed three straight victories. The final tally of UT's victory was secured when Alabama's No. 6 player, Andrea Brenes, retired with Harris leading, 5-4, in the first set.

"We got a hard-fought victory over Alabama," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "They have got two of the better players in the conference and they showed that, but we fought through that and got momentum back with (performances at) 3 and 4 and continued that. I'm real proud of the girls' efforts. As always, with Tennessee and Alabama, it was highly competitive.

The Lady Vols now play host to Auburn (5-10, 0-5 SEC), who dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 30 Georgia tonight, at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Tennessee remained in a tie for third place in the overall SEC standings at 4-1 behind 5-0 Florida and Vanderbilt. The Lady Vols are in the stalemate with Georgia and Kentucky.

#24 Tennessee 5, #26 Alabama 2
Singles competition
1. #12 Robin Stephenson (UA) def. Victoria Jones (TN)6-1, 6-1
2. #86 Ashley Bentley (UA) def. Melissa Schaub (TN) 6-1, 6-0
3. Blakeley Griffith (TN) def. Mari Muller (UA) 6-1, 6-1
4. Ghizela Schutte (TN) def. Shelley Godwin (UA) 6-3, 6-1
5. Samantha Orlin (TN) def. Natalie McElveen (UA) 6-1, 6-2
6. Stephanie Harris (TN) def. Melissa Day (UA) 5-4, retired
Doubles competition
1. #18 Ashley Bentley/Robin Stephenson (UA) def. Melissa Schaub/Ghizela Schutte (TN) 8-5
2. Blakeley Griffith/Victoria Jones (TN) def. Melissa Day/Mari Muller (UA) 8-3
3. Stephanie Harris/Samantha Orlin (TN) def. Andrea Brenes/Natalie McElveen (UA) 8-4
Match Notes:
Alabama 7-6, 3-2 SEC; National ranking #26
Tennessee 8-7, 4-1 SEC; National ranking #24
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,2,3,4,5,6)


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