April 10, 2004
In a contest that was not decided until the final singles match was complete, the fifth-ranked University of Georgia defeated the 24th-ranked University of Tennessee by a score of 4-3 in women's tennis on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, UGA (17-3, 9-2 SEC) secures the third seed for the upcoming Southeastern Conference Championships, while Tennessee (13-12, 7-4 SEC) will enter the tournament with the fourth seed.
The Bulldogs claimed the first doubles match on Saturday with an 8-3 victory by Natalie Frazier and Douglas Wink over freshmen Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.) and Victoria Jones (Tyne & Wear, U.K.) at the No. 3 position. UT evened things up, though, with an 8-6 win by the sophomore tandem of Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla.) and Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio) over the 47th-ranked pair of Jitka Schonfeldova and Evgenia Subbotina at the No. 2 spot.
The Lady Vol duo of senior Tammy Encina (Miami Beach, Fla.) and junior Majen Immink (Kent, U.K.) then clinched the doubles point for UT with an 8-6 triumph over UGA's Shadisha Robinson and Alexandra Smith at the No. 1 position. Although the pair of Robinson and Smith is not ranked, Robinson is ranked sixth when playing with senior Agata Cioroch.
Singles play began with an upset by 36th-ranked Encina over sixth-ranked Cioroch to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead in the match. Encina, who has battled injury throughout the season, recorded a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Cioroch at the No. 1 position. Today marked the second match between the two players this season, as Cioroch posted a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Encina at the ITA All-American Championships on Oct. 10, 2003.
Georgia earned its first point of the day when Wink completed a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Immink at No. 5 singles. Despite the loss, Immink owns a singles record of 20-10 this season.
UGA then tied the match at 2-2, as 79th-ranked Frazier notched a 6-4, 6-4 win against Griffith at the No. 4 spot. Even after the loss, Griffith still boasts a team-best record of 29-11 in singles this year.
Tennessee re-gained the lead with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory by 86th-ranked Maharaj over 23rd-ranked Robinson at the No. 2 position. Maharaj, who improved her singles record to 26-11, now has five wins over ranked opponents this season. Additionally, the sophomore is a perfect 8-0 at the No. 2 singles position in SEC play.
The Bulldogs, however, would go on to win the match with a pair of three-set victories in the final two singles contests. Smith posted a 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 win over Jones at the No. 6 spot, while 67th-ranked Subbotina outlasted junior Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky.), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, at the No. 3 position to claim victory for UGA.
Of Tennessee's 12 losses this season, eight have been by scores of 4-3, with three of those defeats coming in the final singles match. Additionally, in their 25 matches this season, the Lady Vols have faced 22 ranked opponents and 17 teams that received bids to the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee must now prepare for the SEC Championships, which will take place over Thurs.-Sun., April 15-18. Because the tournament's top four seeds all receive first-round byes, the Lady Vols initial match of the event will be on Fri., April 16. This year's tourney will be hosted by Vanderbilt at the Brownlee O. Currey Tennis Complex in Nashville.