May 20, 2004
The 24th-ranked University of Tennessee women's tennis team saw its NCAA Tournament run come to an end in the Round of 16 on Thursday evening, as the Lady Vols fell to No. 3 Vanderbilt by a score of 4-1. The match marked the third consecutive year in which Vandy and UT have squared off in the Sweet 16 and the second straight victory for the Commodores.
"Vanderbilt and Tennessee have played a lot of great tennis matches over the years," UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "Our matches always seem to be highly competitive and tonight was no exception."
In 2002, a 14th-seeded Lady Vol squad upset fourth-seeded Vandy, 4-2, en route to advancing to the Final Four. Last season, 10th-seeded VU edged out seventh-seeded UT by a score of 4-3.
On Thursday, Tennessee got off to a strong start by claiming to doubles point with a pair of upset victories. Vanderbilt captured the first doubles match, though, as the duo of Amanda Fish and Ashley Schellhas defeated UT freshman Blakeley Griffith (Middleburg, Va.) and sophomore Sabita Maharaj (Gainesville, Fla.) by a score of 8-2 at the No. 3 spot. The Lady Vols quickly struck back, however, when juniors Breanna Kray (Surrey, B.C., Canada) and Ashley Robards (Henderson, Ky.) notched an 8-6 victory over the 39th-ranked duo of Audra Falk and Annie Menees at the No. 2 position. The match marked only the sixth defeat for Falk and Menees this season, as they entered the contest with a record of 34-5.
With Tennessee and Vandy splitting the first two doubles matches, all attention turned to court No. 1, where UT senior Tammy Encina (Miami Beach, Fla.) and junior Majen Immink (Kent, U.K.) battled the second-ranked tandem of Kelly Schmandt and Aleke Tsoubanos, who entered the contest with a record of 32-4. Encina and Immink, however, managed to secure the doubles point for UT with an 8-5 victory, snapping the Vandy pair's 10-match win streak.
With the No. 5 and No. 6 singles matches delayed due to a power failure at Dan Magill Tennis Complex, singles competition began with matches No. 1-4. In the first contest to finish, Vandy's Amanda Fish downed Griffith, 6-1, 6-1, at the No. 4 singles spot. Despite the loss, Griffith finishes the season as the team's winningest player with a record of 31-13.
Vanderbilt then grabbed a 2-1 lead in the match as 13th-ranked Audra Falk defeated 37th-ranked Encina, 6-2, 6-3, at the No. 1 position. The 'Dores went ahead by a score of 3-1 when 120th-ranked Tsoubanos outlasted Robards, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, at the No. 3 position. The Black and Gold then clinched the match with a 6-1, 6-1 victory by Amanda Fish over Majen Immink at No. 5 singles.
At the time play was suspended, 55th-ranked Sabita Maharaj held a 7-6, 5-4 lead over 61st-ranked Kelly Schmandt at the No. 2 spot, while UT freshman Victoria Jones trailed Annie Menees, 6-2, at the No. 6 position.
Tennessee, a No. 17-32 seed in the NCAA Tournament, had advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 4-3 upset of 14th-seeded North Carolina in the second round. Prior to that, the Lady Vols outlasted Wisconsin, 4-3, in their first-round match.
"Our team never really showed its true character or played to its full potential until last week," Patrick said. "We had some ups and downs due to injury and adversity this season, but to see us play well last week and today make all the trials and tribulations worthwhile."
The Lady Vols finish the season with a record of 15-14, while Vanderbilt improves to 25-3 with the victory. Earlier this season, the 'Dores defeated UT by a count of 5-2 on April 2 in Nashville.
This year, Tennessee was making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 16 seasons. All 14 appearances have come under the direction of Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick, who is now 21-14 in the tourney. The past seven seasons, Patrick's wife, Co-Head Coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick, has joined UT for the event, compiling an NCAA mark of 17-7 during that time.
Although the season is over for Tennessee as a team, two Lady Vols will be playing in the NCAA Singles Championships, which take place in Athens from May 24-29. Sabita Maharaj and Tammy Encina will both represent UT in the individual tournament, for which match pairings and times will be announced on Sunday evening after the conclusion of the team championship match.
NCAA Tournament Round of 16: #17-32 seed Tennessee vs. #3 seed Vanderbilt
Athens, Ga. - May 20, 2004
Final score: Vanderbilt 4, Tennessee 1
National rankings: UT - No. 24, Vanderbilt - No. 3
Team records: UT: 15-14, North Carolina: 25-3
No. 1 #13 Audra Falk (VU) def. #37 Tammy Encina (UT), 6-2, 6-3
No. 2 #55 Sabita Maharaj (UT) vs. #61 Kelly Schmandt (VU), Unfinished
No. 3 #120 Aleke Tsoubanos (VU) def. Ashley Robards (UT), 6-2, 1-6, 6-2
No. 4 Amanda Fish (VU) def. Blakeley Griffith (UT), 6-1, 6-1
No. 5 Ashley Schellhas (VU) def. Majen Immink (UT), 6-1, 6-1
No. 6 Victoria Jones (UT) vs. Annie Menees (VU), Unfinished
Order of finish: 4, 1, 3, 5*
No. 1 Encina/Immink (UT) def. #2 Schmandt/Tsoubanos (VU), 8-5
No. 2 Kray/Robards (UT) def. #39 Falk/Menees (VU), 8-6
No. 3 Fish/Schellhas (VU) def. Griffith/Maharaj (UT), 8-2
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1*