April 1, 2011
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 16-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team notched its second consecutive shutout and fourth straight win, defeating Mississippi State, 7-0, on Friday at Barksdale Stadium.
Today's victory marks the first time UT (14-4, 6-0) has recorded back-to-back shutouts since 2003, when the Lady Vols earned 7-0 wins over Arkansas and BYU on March 16 and 18, respectively.
With his team now 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play, UT co-head coach Mike Patrick feels like the squad is starting to hit its stride.
"We're starting to play well," Patrick said. "We've seen some good things out of the team and we're hoping to keep that going over the next few weeks. We're starting to strike the ball well and we're finally getting healthy."
UT switched things up a bit in doubles, pairing Brynn Boren and Natalie Pluskota at No. 1 for the first time since Jan. 31 against Ole Miss. The white-hot duo of Jennifer Meredith and Kata Szekely moved up to the No. 2 spot to make way for Whitney Wofford and Maria Sorbello at No. 3.
Despite the modified lineup, Tennessee didn't miss a beat, sweeping all three doubles contests. Meredith and Szekely continued to roll, earning their 16th straight victory.
In singles, Tennessee won all six matches in straight sets for the second consecutive match. Freshman Whitney Wofford, playing singles for the first time since March 6, tallied the Big Orange's first point of the day, as her opponent retired with Wofford leading, 4-1.
At No. 5 singles, Millie Nichols recorded her fifth shutout in her last 12 contests, defeating Vivian Pietraroia, 6-0, 6-0. Kata Szekely clinched the win for the Orange and White with a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles.
From there, Pluskota, Boren and Sorbello were all able to notch victories, setting the final score at 7-0.
UT will turn its focus to its next opponent, No. 27 Ole Miss. Patrick expects a very strong challenge from the Rebels, who pushed the Lady Vols very hard in the first meeting of the season. Tennessee was ultimately victorious, 5-2, but it was by no means an easy victory.
"Ole Miss is a quality team." Patrick said. "They're getting healthy and they're almost back to full strength. We should have a really good match on Sunday."
Senior Rosalía Alda was forced to miss the match because of an NCAA rule stating that players can only participate in 25 competition dates. Alda played an extra tournament in the fall, so she would've reached 26 dates had she played out the rest of the season.
Sunday's match is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET at Barksdale Stadium.
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#16 Tennessee 7, Mississippi State 0
1. #31 Natalie Pluskota (TENN) def. Alexandra Perper (MSU) 6-2, 6-0
2. #37 Brynn Boren (TENN) def. Mariia Ryzhova (MSU) 6-2, 6-0
3. Kata Szekely (TENN) def. Danielle Terpko (MSU) 6-0, 6-1
4. Maria Sorbello (TENN) def. Olesya Tsigvintseva (MSU) 6-4, 7-5
5. Millie Nichols (TENN) def. Vivian Pietraroia (MSU) 6-0, 6-0
6. Whitney Wofford (TENN) def. Rosaline Dion (MSU) 4-1, retired
1. Natalie Pluskota/Brynn Boren (TENN) def. Alexandra Perper/Olesya Tsigvintseva (MSU) 8-1
2. Jennifer Meredith/Kata Szekely (TENN) def. Mariia Ryzhova/Jordan Zachary (MSU) 8-1
3. Maria Sorbello/Whitney Wofford (TENN) def. Danielle Terpko/Vivian Pietraroia (MSU) 8-6
Mississippi State 2-11, 0-7
Tennessee 14-4, 6-0; National ranking #16
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,5,3,1,2,4).