May 9, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 10 University of Tennessee women's tennis team (18-6) remained perfect at home in the NCAA Tournament, moving to 12-0 all-time with a 4-0 victory over in-state rival East Tennessee State (17-7) Saturday afternoon at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville. The Lady Volunteers advance to face 22nd-ranked South Carolina in the second round of the competition at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The Big Orange came out on fire in doubles action, scoring a pair of wins in just over 30 minutes to stake claim to an early 1-0 lead. Despite playing together for the first time this season, the Tennessee tandem of junior Zsófia Zubor and senior Samantha Orlin looked as if they had played together for ages, cruising to an 8-1 triumph over the ETSU combo of Tara Sheets and Vita Moskaliova on court three.
Mere moments later, sophomores Jennifer Meredith and Maria Sorbello joined forces to give UT the doubles point for the 17th time in 24 matches this season, downing Tara Byrne and Karina Kedzo by an identical 8-1 score at the second position in the lineup. The win moved their record to a perfect 9-0 and marked their sixth doubles-point clinching victory of the year.
Although the match was halted when the outcome of the doubles point was determined, the Lady Vols' top pairing of junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota, ranked 10th in the nation, was also leading, having taken a 6-5 advantage over Buccaneer duo of Yevgeniya Stupak and Paula Jaime.
Tennessee continued to put forth a solid effort in singles play, scoring straight-set wins on the top three courts to pick up its 18th victory of the season. Orlin wasted little time in putting the Orange and White up by a 2-0 count, taking out Kedzo, 6-3, 6-2, at the No. 3 position. The team's lone senior, she now tops the squad with a 26-10 singles record, including a stellar 18-5 mark in dual-match action.
Pluskota kept the momentum flowing for the Lady Vols, emerging victorious over Byrne, 6-4, 6-1, on court two to put UT within a single point of the team victory. All eyes then turned to center court, where the 34th-ranked Whoriskey was closing out her contest against Stupak. The East Sandwich, Mass., native recorded a 6-3, 6-3, triumph to pick up her second match-clinching victory of the year. Both have come during the postseason, as she first accomplished the feat against South Carolina at the SEC Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark., on April 24.
Once Whoriskey closed out the win, the matches at the fourth and fifth positions were halted with Tennessee leading on both courts. Meredith was up a set over Jaime, 6-3, 3-5, while Sorbello had won the first two games against Sheets. The No. 6 singles contest between Zubor and Andra Voinea had yet to begin.
With the victory, Tennessee moves on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where it will square off with No. 22 South Carolina for the third time this season at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The winner will advance to the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas, May 15-19.
|1. No. 34 Caitlin Whoriskey (UT) def. Yevgeniya Stupak (ETSU) - 6-3, 6-3|
|2. Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. Tara Byrne (ETSU) - 6-4, 6-1|
|3. Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Karina Kedzo (ETSU) - 6-3, 6-2|
|4. Jennifer Meredith (UT) vs. Paula Jaime (ETSU) - 6-3, 3-5 (unfinished)|
|5. Maria Sorbello (UT) vs. Tara Sheets (ETSU) - 2-0 (unfinished)|
|6. Zsófia Zubor (UT) vs. Andra Voinea (ETSU) - Did not play|
|1. No. 10 Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (UT) def. Yevgeniya Stupak/Paula Jaime (ETSU) - 6-5 (unfinished)|
|2. Jennifer Meredith/Maria Sorbello (UT) def. Tara Byrne/Karina Kedzo (ETSU) - 8-1|
|3. Zsófia Zubor/Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Tara Sheets/Vita Moskaliova (ETSU) - 8-1|
|Order of Finish: Doubles (3,2*); Singles (3,2,1*)|
TENNESSEE CO-HEAD COACH Mike Patrick
"We've been off for two weeks and we had a little bit of rust on us, but East Tennessee came out ready to play and we were able to work through it. We have quite a bit of experience playing in tough matches and I thought that really showed today. ETSU fought hard and really made us work, but I'm pleased with what we were able to do."
On tomorrow's match:
"I'm looking forward to a good match with South Carolina tomorrow. We've played them twice and they are a very talented team. We'll have to play our best to beat them, but we're ready to get out there."
TENNESSEE SENIOR Samantha Orlin
On winning the doubles point:
"Winning quick in doubles always helps and sets the tone for the rest of the match. Zsófia (Zubor) and I went out there knowing we had to get it done. We hadn't played together before, but our games really complement each other. We knew if we played smart, we would be fine."
On getting off to a quick start in singles:
"I've been here for four years and know that getting off to a quick start can help the rest of the team, especially when we are inside and there are only four courts. It really helps to take the pressure off everyone else."
On playing South Carolina for a third time:
"I know we've played them twice and won both times, but they are going to come out swinging. It's going to be tough. They are a great team, but we just need to go out there and get it done."
EAST TENNESSEE STATE HEAD COACH STEVE BROOKS
"Tennessee came out strong and at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. As soon as we started to show some signs of nervousness with some of our young players, Tennessee really turned up the heat against us with a number of forehands and strong serves. Once they started hitting solid shots, it really put pressure on our team to hit winners instead just making the solid return over the net. Going into the match we expected a tough match and knew we would have to set the pace and maintain runs that Tennessee might get into, and today we just didn't do that."
EAST TENNESSEE STATE SENIOR TARA BYRNE
"It was good to make the tournament, but our goal was to play our style of tennis against a tough team like Tennessee. That's easier said than done though. Today, we started off a bit slow and kind of allowed Tennessee to set the rhythm off their serve. Once our team fell behind it was tough to battle back, being down a set in all four singles matches, but hopefully our returning players will take this experience and build on what we have done this season."