March 27, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Despite fighting tooth and nail down to the final point, the 13th-ranked University of Tennessee women's tennis team (10-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) fell just short in its bid for a road victory over No. 23 Arkansas (9-4, 4-1 SEC), dropping a 4-3 decision to the Razorbacks on Friday afternoon at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Sophomore Jennifer Meredith continued her stellar play for the Lady Volunteers, winning her ninth consecutive singles match and becoming the first player on the UT roster to earn 20 victories on the season.
The match started out well for the Orange and White, as it narrowly edged Arkansas for the doubles point with hard-fought wins on the second and third courts. The Lady Vols have now claimed the doubles point in 10 matches this season, winning nine of them. The Razorbacks struck the first blow in tandem play, however, with the duo of Aurelija Miseviciute and Ela Kaluder taking out the No. 32-rated UT combo of junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota by a score of 8-5 on center court.
Tennessee quickly got back on track though, as the pairing of junior Zsófia Zubor and sophomore Rosalía Alda knotted things up with an 8-6 triumph over the Arkansas team of Emily Carbone and Anouk Tigu on the third court. The win marked the 70th career doubles victory for Zubor, giving her sole possession of 12th place on UT's career doubles wins chart.
Just moments later, it looked as if the Razorbacks would take the first lead of the match with Kate Lukomskaya and Nanar Airapetian taking an 8-7 lead over UT senior Samantha Orlin and sophomore Maria Sorbello, but the Lady Vol duo was able to regain its rhythm just in time to tie it at 8-8 before winning the match-deciding tiebreaker by a decisive 7-0 score.
The Lady Vols continued to apply the pressure early on in the singles portion of the contest, using a straight-set, 6-1, 6-1, victory by Meredith at the fourth position in the lineup over Carbone to take a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard. The win marked her ninth consecutive singles triumph and improved the Marietta, Ga., native's season record to a team-best 20-9, including an 11-3 mark in dual-match play.
Arkansas would respond quickly and forcefully though, tallying wins on the third, first and sixth courts to take its first advantage of the afternoon at 3-2. Kaluder was the first Razorback to finish off her opponent, claiming a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Orlin before the No. 4-ranked Miseviciute topped the 48th-rated Whoriskey, 6-4, 7-5, on center court to tie the match up at two-all. Lukomskaya finished off the Arkansas run with a three-set win over Zubor at the No. 6 position, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Despite the fact that it was trailing on the scoreboard and needed to win both of the remaining matches, in no way did Tennessee feel that the match was over, as it held leads in the third sets on both courts. At the fifth slot, Alda held a 3-1 advantage over Airapetian, while Pluskota found herself up 3-2 on the No. 68-ranked Tigu on court two.
Although her opponent mounted a late rally to tie the score at both 4-4 and 5-5, Alda was able to hold off Airapetian in the end, 6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-5, to keep the hopes of the Orange and White faithful alive. Unfortunately, those dreams were dashed just moments later, as Tigu won four of the final five points to outlast Pluskota in a three-set battle, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, and hand UT just its fourth loss of the season.
The Big Orange will look to return to the win column this Sunday when it makes the trek back to Rocky Top for a Noon showdown with No. 21 LSU at the Goodfriend Tennis Center. Admission is free and live stats will be available at www.UTLadyVols.com.
|1. No. 4 Aurelija Miseviciute (ARK) def. No. 48 Caitlin Whoriskey (UT)||6-4, 7-5|
|2. No. 68 Anouk Tigu (ARK) def. Natalie Pluskota (UT)||6-3, 5-7, 6-4|
|3. Ela Kaluder (ARK) def. Samantha Orlin (UT)||6-3, 6-3|
|4. Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Emily Carbone (ARK)||6-1, 6-1|
|5. Rosalía Alda (UT) def. Nanar Airapetian (ARK)||6-7 (6), 6-2, 7-5|
|6. Kate Lukomskaya (ARK) def. Zsófia Zubor (UT)||3-6, 6-4, 6-3|
|1. Aurelija Miseviciute/Ela Kaluder (ARK) def. No. 32 Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (UT)||8-5|
|2. Maria Sorbello/Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Kate Lukomskaya/Nanar Airapetian (ARK)||9-8 (0)|
|3. Rosalía Alda/Zsófia Zubor (UT) def. Emily Carbone/Anouk Tigu (ARK)||8-6|
|Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (4,3,1,6,5,2*)|