April 1, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore Brynn Boren matched a career best with her sixth consecutive win, while clinching the 19th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team's first victory since March 11, as UT defeated Kentucky, 6-1, Sunday at the Boone Tennis Complex.
"It's huge for our team because they're all working together so well," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "To have a team win like this under all of the circumstances that we've been under is a great confidence booster for them."
Fielding a complete singles lineup for the first time since their last win at Mississippi State, the Lady Vols (12-9, 3-5 SEC) snapped a four-match skid with a dominating performance Sunday.
"Our team is getting healthier, but it's still a one-match at a time situation," Hahn-Patrick said. "During a season, we're always taking it one match at a time anyways. I definitely think we have good momentum for the upcoming matches, especially playing at home. It was just a great effort today."
Boren, now 6-1 in SEC play, used a 6-4, 6-3 advantage to defeat Khristina Blajkevitch and give Tennessee a 4-0 lead, ensuring that the Lady Vols would walk away winners.
Just prior to Boren's clincher, freshman Caitlyn Williams registered a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Edmee Morin to put UT up 3-0. Playing in just her third match since March 4, Williams appeared to benefit from the recovery time.
"The thing about Caitlyn is she's a very versatile player," Hahn-Patrick said. "She is one of the clutch players on our team that I know under pressure, she'll know what to do. It's unfortunate that she isn't able to put in the time on the court to practice as much as she would like at this point. She's a smart player with a lot of court sense that knows what she needs to get done. She outsmarted her opponent today."
Junior Kata Szekely became the third Lady Vol this season to reach her 50th career win, joining Boren and Natalie Pluskota. Szekely won 6-1, 6-2, over Caitlin McGraw for UT's first singles win of the day, which led to a 2-0 advantage.
After Tennessee and Kentucky (8-11, 0-8 SEC) split courts one and three in doubles, it came down to Boren and Williams on court two. The duo, playing together for the first time and trailing 6-4 at the time UK won on court three, flipped a switch to reel off the next four games and win 8-6, giving the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead.
No. 18 Pluskota and Szekely finished first, combining for the other half of Tennessee's doubles point. The tandem is undefeated in dual match play (5-0) and is 12-1 overall in 2011-12.
Tennessee has won the doubles point in 18 of 21 matches this season.
Also returning to the singles lineup for the Lady Vols was Pluskota, who played for the first time since Tennessee's last win on March 11.
Pluskota defeated Jessica Stiles 7-6 (2), 6-4 to put Tennessee ahead, 5-0.
Each won their first set, before eventually playing third-set 10-point tiebreakers with the match in hand. Henderson trailed 9-6 in the third-set against Stephanie Fox, but rallied to eventually win 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (19-17).
Grace, meanwhile, saw her third-set go differently, falling 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3) to Cece Witten.
The Lady Vols have defeated Kentucky on five consecutive occasions.
Tennessee returns to action with a pair of home matches next weekend. The Lady Vols host Auburn on Friday at 5 p.m. ET and Alabama on Easter Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
UT wraps up its season at Georgia on April 14, before the SEC Championships (April 19-22) in Oxford, Miss.
#19 Tennessee 6, Kentucky 1
1. #29 Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. Jessica Stiles (UK) 7-6 (2), 6-4
2. #28 Brynn Boren (UT) def. Khristina Blajkevitch (UK) 6-4, 6-3
3. #49 Kata Szekely (UT) def. Caitlin McGraw (UK) 6-1, 6-2
4. Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Edmee Morin (UK) 6-1, 6-1
5. Joanna Henderson (UT) def. Stephanie Fox (UK) 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (17)
6. Cece Witten (UK) def. Jesse Grace (UT) 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (3)
1. #18 Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (UT) def. Jessica Stiles/Caitlin McGraw (UK) 8-4
2. Brynn Boren/Caitlyn Williams (UT) def. Edmee Morin/Khristina Blajkevitch (UK) 8-6
3. Marni Venter/Cece Witten (UK) def. Joanna Henderson/Jesse Grace (UT) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 3, 2); Singles (3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6)
Records: Tennessee (12-9, 3-5 SEC), Kentucky (8-11, 0-8 SEC)