May 20, 2010
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
ATHENS, Ga. - The No. 13-seeded Tennessee women's tennis team used an all-around team effort to topple No. 4 seed Michigan, 4-0, to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in eight years.
UT will take on Notre Dame at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 22. The Fighting Irish topped California, 4-2, on Thursday afternoon.
Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said she was extremely pleased with her team.
"Today they were so ready and prepared," Patrick said. "I just could not be more proud of the way they fought and competed. Everyone as a team really contributed, and everyone put in a great team effort."
UT then clinched the doubles point courtesy of a grueling 9-8 (12-10) win at No. 2 doubles. Rosalía Alda and Zsófia Zubor fell behind 4-1 in the tiebreaker before ultimately edging the Wolverines. The victory seemed to give the Big Orange a mental edge before singles play began.
"I think we had good momentum going into singles," Alda said. "We came in with more energy. Today was an amazing team effort. We did everything we've been working on and it turned out perfectly."
In singles, the Orange and White cruised, winning the first set in five of six matches. Kata Szekely made the team score 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 6 singles. Caitlin Whoriskey defeated Denise Muresan, 6-2, 6-1, avenging a defeat suffered on Jan. 17 at the Michigan Invitational.
Whoriskey wasn't the only one to suffer a defeat at the hands of a Michigan foe at that tournament. UM took 4 of 6 singles matches and both doubles contests from the Orange and White in January.
Those facts loomed large in the minds of the Lady Vols during their preparation for this contest.
"When we played them in January, they came out ready to play on their home court," Whoriskey said. "Today, we knew that if we outworked them and fought really hard, we had a chance. Outdoor matches are completely different than being indoors and we took advantage of that."
Rosalía Alda clinched the victory for UT for a team-leading seventh time, recording a 7-5, 6-2 win over Mimi Nguyen.
Despite Michigan's high ranking, Tennessee didn't enter the match feeling intimidated.
"We knew we were going to match intensity with them," Hahn-Patrick said. "We knew it would come down to execution. There were some nerves at the start of doubles but as the match progressed, it showed the epitome of college tennis and we won with a great team effort."
With the win, the Lady Vols improved their record against Big Ten foes to 51-7 (.881) over the past 11 years. During UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick's tenure at Rocky Top, the Lady Vols have put together a dominating 73-14 (.839) record over Big Ten teams, after going 8-9 in the years prior to his arrival.
Saturday's matchup will be a rematch of a contest from Feb. 28, when Notre Dame defeated Tennessee, 5-2 in South Bend, Ind. The Lady Vols are in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2001-02, when they advanced all the way to the Final Four before falling to Florida, 4-1.
Live scoring and video of Saturday's match will be available on NCAA.com, while a live blog will be posted on UTLadyVols.com
Fans are reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UTLadyVols
Doubles (Order of finish: 1,2)
1. #1 Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (TENNESSEE) def. #19 Whitney Taney/Rika Tatsuno (MICHIGAN), 8-3
2. #30 Rosalía Alda/Zsófia Zubor (TENNESSEE) def. Mimi Nguyen/Michelle Sulahian (MICHIGAN), 9-8 (12-10)
3. Maria Sorbello/Kata Szekely (TENNESSEE) vs. Tania Mahtani/Denise Muresan (MICHIGAN), 8-8, unfinished
Singles (Order of finish: 6,1,3*)
1. #11 Caitlin Whoriskey (TENNESSEE) def. #19 Denise Muresan (MICHIGAN), 6-2, 6-1
2. Whitney Taney (MICHIGAN) vs. #62 Maria Sorbello (TENNESSEE), 2-6, 4-2, unf.
3. Rosalía Alda (TENNESSEE) def. Mimi Nguyen (MICHIGAN), 7-5, 6-2
4. Tania Mahtani (MICHIGAN) vs. Zsófia Zubor (TENNESSEE), 3-6, unf.
5. Rika Tatsuno (MICHIGAN) vs. Jennifer Meredith (TENNESSEE), 6-4, 0-6, 1-0, unf.
6. Kata Szekely (TENNESSEE) def. Michelle Sulahian (MICHIGAN), 6-2, 6-0
*indicates clinching point