May 10, 2003
It took less than two hours for the No. 7-seeded University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer tennis squad to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on a windy Saturday afternoon in Knoxville, as they raced past Murray State, 4-0. UT moved to 21-6 with the victory, while the Racers ended their season at 13-11. The Lady Vols will face off with Virginia at 1 p.m. tomorrow at UT Varsity Courts and Goodfriend Tennis Center. UVa dispatched of Ohio State by a 4-0 margin earlier in the day.
"We played well today," said UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick. "The wind made conditions for tennis tough. We're looking forward to a competitive match with Virginia tomorrow.
"I'm hoping that anyone in Knoxville who is a tennis fan will come out tomorrow to see Vilmarie (Castellvi) play her last match at home. She is truly one of the greatest athletes this university has ever seen."
Castellvi is the nation's No. 1-ranked singles player. She owns a 39-4 record this season and is 24-1 at the No. 1 spot. The Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, native is the all-time winningest player in school history with 134 career victories.
Tennessee got things rolling in the doubles with a pair of 8-2 victories at the Nos. 1 and 2 slots. At one, the fifth-rated combo of Castellvi and freshman Melissa Schaub downed the Racers' Jaclyn Leeper and Melissa Spencer to clinch the point. UT's first victory came courtesy of senior Crystal Cleveland and freshman Sabita Maharaj at two doubles over Annette Steen and Jennifer Ward.
The singles matches were even more lopsided as the Lady Vols won five of the first six sets by a 6-0 count. On the day, the Big Orange only lost a total of six games in the singles portion of the event.
The 51st-ranked Cleveland was the first finisher with a 6-0, 6-0 decision over Ward at the No. 3 hole. Cleveland, who spent the morning participating in the graduation ceremony on UT's campus, improved to 32-8 this year and 23-3 in dual matches. The Delray Beach, Fla., native received her Bachelor's in early childhood development.
Sophomore Ashley Robards became the fifth Lady Vol this season to win at least 20 matches after she gave the Orange and White a 3-0 advantage with a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of her own versus Tami McQueen at six singles. Robards now stands at 20-13 and 15-6 in duals this season.
The only question that remained with a 3-0 lead was which Lady Vol would clinch the match since Castellvi, Maharaj and junior Tammy Encina were all just one game away from victory. Maharaj ended up securing the triumph, 6-0, 6-1, winning the final point despite playing with a broken string for most of the final rally of her match with Cheryl Graham at the No. 5 slot. It was Maharaj's 15th win of the year.
The winner of tomorrow's contest will earn a trip to Gainesville, Fla., for the last four rounds of the tournament. The team portion of the tourney takes place May 15-18. The singles and doubles tournaments begin after the team champion has been crowned on May 19 and 20. The individual championship matches are scheduled for May 24.
Final Score: #7 Tennessee (21-6) 4, #49-64 Murray State (13-11) 0