April 23, 2011
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 14-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team advanced to its third consecutive SEC Championship final by defeating ninth-ranked Georgia, 4-1, on Saturday at Barksdale Stadium.
This was the second meeting between the two squads in the past seven days. UT took a 5-2 decision from the Bulldogs on April 16 on senior day in Knoxville. Tennessee co-head coach Mike Patrick knew the sting of defeat would be fresh in Georgia's minds.
"I knew it was going to be a barnburner," Patrick said. "It's tough to beat a team twice, especially a team as good as Georgia. They didn't have anything to lose. They came out swinging and our kids did a great job. I'm real proud of them."
Tennessee started the match off in style, taking the doubles point thanks to a clutch victory at court two. UT had already taken a victory at No. 3, 8-1. Georgia had a 7-3 lead at court one and it appeared that the decision at No. 2 would decide the doubles outcome. The UGA duo of Lilly Kimbell and Alex Anghelescu overcame a 6-2 deficit to tie things up at 6-6.
However, the senior tandem of Rosalía Alda and Maria Sorbello rose to the occasion and held serve to move ahead, 7-6. From there, the Lady Vols got a break of Georgia's serve to clinch the doubles point and put UT ahead, 1-0.
In singles play, Georgia evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles. Sophomore Kata Szekely, returning the lineup after missing yesterday's due to injury, showed little rust at No. 4 singles, winning 6-1, 6-2 over No. 111 Anghelescu to put UT back ahead, 2-1.
Shortly thereafter, Maria Sorbello won her third straight match at No. 5 singles to put UT up 3-1.
Freshman Brynn Boren battled back from a 6-3 loss in the first set to win the second frame, 6-1. In the third set, Boren got a huge break to move ahead 4-1 and never looked back, winning her contest, 6-1. The victory propelled the Lady Vols to their third consecutive SEC Championship Final.
The Lady Vols will advance to face top-seeded and second-ranked Florida (24-1), who reached the final by topping No. 19 Vanderbilt, 4-0, on Saturday morning.
UT has never defeated Florida, a fact that isn't lost on Patrick.
"We'd love to break that streak," Patrick said. "We have no reason to hold back and we're going to play to win. We know we're playing a great team. They're very tough and they've dominated the league for 30 years."
Sunday's contest will be a rematch of a contest from April 10, where the Gators won, 4-0 in Gainesville, Fla.
Alda said that Tennessee played tentatively against a talented Florida squad in that meeting.
"They have a big name, so when we played them earlier, some of us started off nervous but the matches ended up really close," Alda said. "We want this tournament so badly and we're going to play even better this time. We're really excited to play for the championship."
UT is aiming for the first SEC Championship--regular season or tournament--in program history. First serve is scheduled for Noon ET.
A live blog and live scoring for the match will be available on UTLadyVols.com.
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#14 Tennessee 4, #9 Georgia 1
1. #26 Chelsey Gullickson (UGA) def. #32 Natalie Pluskota (TENN) 6-3, 6-2
2. #97 Rosalía Alda (TENN) vs. #87 Maho Kowase (UGA) 6-4, 1-6, 1-1, unfinished
3. #44 Brynn Boren (TENN) def. Lilly Kimbell (UGA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-1
4. Kata Szekely (TENN) def. #111 Alex Anghelescu (UGA) 6-1, 6-2
5. Maria Sorbello (TENN) def. Kate Fuller (UGA) 6-1, 6-1
6. Millie Nichols (TENN) vs. #91 Cameron Ellis (UGA) 6-7 (6-8), 2-4, unfinished
1. #10 Chelsey Gullickson/Kate Fuller (UGA) def. #16 Natalie Pluskota/Brynn Boren (TENN) 8-5
2. Rosalía Alda/Maria Sorbello (TENN) def. Lilly Kimbell/Alex Anghelescu (UGA) 8-6
3. Millie Nichols/Jennifer Meredith (TENN) def. Maho Kowase/Cameron Ellis (UGA) 8-1
Georgia 16-4; National ranking #9
Tennessee 19-6; National ranking #14
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (1,4,5,3)