April 10, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 23rd-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team pushed No. 5 Kentucky to the brink in a thrilling match before falling to the visiting Wildcats, 4-3, at the Goodfriend Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon.
UT (13-7, 6-4 SEC) was in pursuit of its second straight upset of a top-six team, but UK (21-3, 10-0), who locked up the SEC Regular Season Championship with at win at Georgia Friday night, pulled out a last-set win to record the victory.
"We had a great chance to win," Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "I have no complaints. We had a really tough break with Ashley's injury, but we fought hard to overcome it and I'm really proud of their effort.
For the second consecutive match, the Lady Volunteers were swept in the three doubles sets. The No. 2 UT tandem of junior Melissa Schaub (Lexington, Ohio / Lexington H.S.) and freshman Ghizela Schutte (Ninapark, South Africa / Damelin College) were the only Lady Vol pairing to lead in their set. Schaub and Schutte were up 3-2 before eventually falling by a 8-5 margin to Kentucky's No. 14 Joelle Schwenk and Kim Coventry.
At the No. 1 position, the Lady Vol pair of junior Sabita Maharaj
(Gainesville, Fla. / Buchholz H.S.) and freshman Bryce Marable (Darien, Ill. /
Hinsdale South H.S.) fell to the Kentucky team of Joelle Schwenk and Kim
Coventry, 8-3. The No. 3 combo of freshman Daron Moore (North Hollywood,
Calif. / Campbell Hall School) and senior Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky. /
Henderson County H.S.) lost to Kentucky's Emily Foster and Lara Maurer, also
by an 8-3 margin.
Tennessee got off to a tough start in the singles competition when Robards was forced to retire from her match with Maurer due to injury. The senior was leading in the first set, 3-2 at the time of the injury.
Next to be completed was Schutte, in the No. 6 spot. The freshman defeated Wildcat Danielle Petrisko, 6-3, 6-0, to bring UT within one at 2-1. The native South African has now won seven-of-nine contests in dual-match action.
From that point, the Lady Vols scored two consecutive upsets of ranked players to pull ahead, 3-2.
Victoria Jones' (Tyne & Wear, U.K. / South Tyneside College) 7-5, 6-0 upset of No. 50 Sarah Foster at the three spot started the rally. It was the third consecutive straight-set win for Jones since moving up to the No. 3 position and the sophomore's second straight upset of a ranked player after she downed Vanderbilt's 60th-ranked Taka Bertrand on Friday night.
Sophomore Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va. / Loudoun County H.S.) continued the surge at the No. 2 spot by defeating No. 33 Kim Coventry, 6-2, 6-3. The win was the fourth over a ranked opponent for Griffith this season.
The match was knotted at three when Kentucky's Kalsarieva, the fifth-ranked player in the nation defeated No. 42 Maharaj, 7-5, 6-1 on center court.
With the match tied, all eyes turned to the action on court four, where UT's Marable and UK's Schwenk were locked in a tight battle that would decide the day's outcome. Marable came away with a set one win in a tiebreaker, 7-5, but Schwenk took sets two and three, 6-4, 6-1, to give the UK sophomore the win and Kentucky the match.
"Now we know that we can play with them," Patrick said. "They (Kentucky) won the SEC Championship on Friday and we're right there with them. This should give our team a lot of confidence heading in to next week's match.
Tennessee concludes regular-season play with a noon contest versus No. 3 Georgia at noon on Saturday, April 16. The post-season begins for the team at the SEC Tournament over April 21-24 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
No. 5 Kentucky 4, No. 23 Tennessee 3
1. No. 5 Aibika Kalsarieva (KY) def. No. 42 Sabita Maharaj (TN) 7-5, 6-1
2. Blakeley Griffith (TN) def. No. 33 Kim Coventry (KY) 6-2, 6-3
3. Vicky Jones (TN) def. No. 50 Sarah Foster (KY) 7-5, 6-0
4. Joelle Schwenk (KY) def. Bryce Marable (TN) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1
5. Lara Maurer (KY) def. Ashley Robards (TN) 2-3, retired
6. Ghizela Schutte (TN) def. Danielle Petrisko (KY) 6-3, 6-0
1. No. 7 Sarah Foster/Aibika Kalsarieva (KY) def. Sabita Maharaj/Bryce Marable (TN) 8-3
2. No. 14 Joelle Schwenk/Kim Coventry (KY) def. Melissa Schaub/Ghizela Schutte (TN) 8-5
3. Emily Foster/Lara Maurer (KY) def. Blakeley Griffith/Ashley Robards (TN) 8-3
Kentucky 20-3, 9-0; National ranking No. 5
Tennessee 13-6, 6-3; National ranking No. 23
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (5,6,2,3,1,4)