April 10, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - It really was a Good Friday for the 13th-ranked University of Tennessee women's tennis team (14-4, 7-2 Southeastern Conference), as it claimed a 7-0 sweep over the No. 23 University of Kentucky (12-7, 3-6) on a blustery afternoon at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville. Sophomore Jennifer Meredith continued her winning ways, tallying her 13th-consecutive singles victory to move her overall record to a team-best 24-9, including a 9-0 mark in SEC action.
"I'm very proud of the way our team came to play this afternoon," UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "Kentucky beat us pretty handily last year, so for us to come back and get a 7-0 win today was very impressive. We did a great job of battling through some tough conditions and I could not have asked for anything more from anyone on our team.
"What makes me so proud about this win is that the SEC is so competitive this season that every match is extremely close and very intense," Patrick said. "We have two more great opportunities coming up against Vanderbilt and Georgia and, hopefully, we can capitalize on them. We know that both teams are very talented, so we will have to be ready to bring our best effort."
Although the Big Orange swept the doubles point for the seventh time this season and third time in four matches, the Wildcats did not make it easy as they either led or were tied late in each contest. The Tennessee tandem of junior Zsófia Zubor and sophomore Rosalía Alda got the ball rolling, breaking open a 5-5 deadlock with three consecutive points to earn an 8-5 triumph over the Kentucky combo of Megan Broderick and Christine Johnston on court two. The win marked the duo's 11th straight and moved its record to 11-1 on the season. It also served as a birthday present for Zubor who was celebrating her 22nd birthday.
The Lady Vols clinched the all-important doubles point on center court just moments later where the nation's 39th-ranked pairing of junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota picked up a come-from-behind, 9-7, win over the No. 40-rated UK team of Carolina Escamilla and Caroline Lilley. The UT squad struggled early, falling behind 4-1. The Wildcats kept applying the pressure and moved within a single point of winning the match at 7-4 before Whoriskey and Pluskota found their rhythm and claimed the final five points of the match to win, 9-7. The victory marked their ninth of the season and sixth over a ranked opponent.
The Orange and White duo of sophomores Jennifer Meredith and Maria Sorbello finished off the doubles sweep for the Big Orange at the third position in the lineup, tallying an 8-6 win over the Kentucky pairing of Whitney Spencer and Lauren Meier. The Lady Vol combo is now a perfect 3-0 since joining forces against Alabama on April 3.
Tennessee kept its foot on the gas pedal in singles play, dropping just one set en route to winning all six matches. Sorbello opened the scoring by defeating Lilley, 6-2, 6-1, on the sixth court. The Mackay, Australia native has won all five of her dual-match contests and is 10-6 on the season. Shortly thereafter, Whoriskey, ranked No. 32 in the nation, bumped the Lady Vol lead up to three with a 6-4, 6-1, win over Escamilla on center court.
For the second straight match and fourth time this season, the Orange and White turned to Meredith to close out the victory. Playing on court four, the Marietta, Ga., product came through in the clutch, downing Meier, 6-3, 7-5, to seal the win for Tennessee and move her winning streak to an impressive 13 matches.
"Jennifer is just such a tough competitor," Patrick said. "You really have to bring better than your `A' game to beat her, because she is not going to beat herself. Not many players have been as successful in the SEC as she has been. For her to have a 9-0 record in the conference this season says a lot about how hard she has worked and how talented she is."
With the outcome of the match already decided, Pluskota continued to pour it on, scoring a 6-4, 6-3, win over Broderick at the No. 2 position to move the UT advantage to 5-0 on the scoreboard. Senior Samantha Orlin added a win of her own just one court over, taking out Johnston, 6-4, 6-3, to add yet another tally for the Big Orange and set up Alda to close out the team's fourth 7-0 sweep of the year. The Round Rock, Texas, native did just that, defeating Spencer in the only three-set contest of the afternoon, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 1-0 (3). The match was moved indoors in the middle of the second set due to increasingly windy conditions and lightning moving into the area. Since dropping to the fifth slot in the singles lineup against Arkansas on March 27, Alda is a perfect 5-0.
Tennessee will next be in action when it hosts 17th-ranked Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 12. The Lady Vols will then welcome No. 2 Georgia to Rocky Top at Noon on Saturday, April 18 for Senior Day. Both matches will take place at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville and live scoring will be available at www.UTLadyVols.com.
|1. No. 32 Caitlin Whoriskey (UT) def. Carolina Escamilla (UK)||6-4, 6-1|
|2. Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. Megan Broderick (UK)||6-4, 6-3|
|3. Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Christine Johnston (UK)||6-3, 6-4|
|4. Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Lauren Meier (UK)||6-3, 7-5|
|5. Rosalía Alda (UT) def. Whitney Spencer (UK)||7-6 (5), 3-6, 1-0 (3)|
|6. Maria Sorbello (UT) def. Caroline Lilley (UK)||6-2, 6-1|
|1. No. 39 Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. No. 40 Carolina Escamilla/Caroline Lilley (UK)||9-7|
|2. Rosalía Alda/Zsófia Zubor (UT) def. Megan Broderick/Christine Johnston (UK)||8-5|
|3. Maria Sorbello/Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Whitney Spencer/Lauren Meier (UK)||8-6|
|Order of Finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (6,1,4*,2,3,5)|