Kata Szekely recorded wins at No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles
May 22, 2010
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
ATHENS, Ga. -The University of Tennessee women's tennis team battled until the end, but ultimately came up short in its bid for the second Final Four in school history, dropping a 4-2 nail biter to No. 5-seeded Notre Dame in an NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal on Saturday evening.
Still, for a UT team that played most of the season shorthanded, the run to the Elite Eight--Tennessee's deepest postseason run in eight years--was a special achievement.
"We've dealt with a lot of injuries," UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "The thought of getting to this point in February--when we only had five people and two doubles teams--seemed a long way away. As the year went along and we got healthy, this became a reality. I feel bad that we weren't able to convert our chances today, but it wasn't for lack of effort."
The Lady Vols began the contest against the Fighting Irish by capturing the doubles point after nearly two hours worth of play. The teams split at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, but UT was too much for Fighting Irish at No. 3, winning 9-8 (7-3).
The doubles win put the Big Orange ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard but didn't translate to momentum in the contest. ND took the first set at five of six singles matches and the Orange and White was playing from behind nearly the whole time.
"We came out a little tentative after the tough doubles point," UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. "We fought our way back and had opportunities there late in the third sets. We gave it everything we had. Our kids left it all out here and played a good match. I'm really proud of our team."
Cosmina Ciobanu evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Zsófia Zubor at No. 4 singles.
Kata Szekely then put the Lady Vols back in the lead, 2-1, with an impressive 6-2, 7-5 victory against Kristen Rafael.
UT then dropped successive matches at No. 2 and No. 5 to put Notre Dame within a point of clinching the victory.
Caitlin Whoriskey was down 5-3 in the second set and receiving Kristy Frilling's serve, but scrapped back to take the set 7-6 (7-2).
On court three, Rosalía Alda rallied to win the second set and set up decisive third sets on both courts. Tennessee needed to take both to advance.
Alda said that she knew her margin for error was slim.
"After I lost the first set, I knew I had to focus so much more and make everything work," Alda said. "I knew if I did that, I could be successful."
In the third set on court one, though, Frilling was too much for Whoriskey and prevailed, 6-3. Her win pushed ND on to the next round and ended what was an extremely successful season for the Lady Volunteers.
The Fighting Irish will advance to face Stanford in the National Semifinals. The Cardinal defeated No. 1-seeded Baylor, 4-2, on Saturday night.
Whoriskey said that there is a stark contrast between this tournament and the individual championships.
"It's different playing the individual portion," Whoriskey said. "You're not there competing with your team, it's all about you and how you want to end your season. For me, the team met our goals but we came up a little bit short today. (Natalie and I) are expecting to do big things in doubles."
Whoriskey and Pluskota reached the semifinals of last year's NCAA Doubles Championships before falling in three sets to Lindsay Burdette and Hillary Barte of Stanford. Those two squads met up in the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships in October, with Whoriskey and Pluskota coming out victorious and ultimately claiming the National Championship.
The NCAA Singles Championships begin May 26 and the Doubles Championship kicks off May 27. Live video will be available at NCAA.com and coverage will be available on UTLadyVols.com.
Fans are reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UTLadyVols
#5 Notre Dame 4, #14 Tennessee 2
1. Kristy Frilling (ND) def. Caitlin Whoriskey (TENN) 6-3, 6-7, 6-3
2. Shannon Mathews (ND) def. Maria Sorbello (TENN) 7-5, 6-3
3. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) vs. Rosalia Alda (TENN) 6-3, 5-7, 3-2, unfinished
4. Cosmina Ciobanu (ND) def. Zsófia Zubor (TENN) 6-2, 6-1
5. Kali Krisik (ND) def. Jennifer Meredith (TENN) 6-2, 7-6 (7-1)
6. Kata Szekely (TENN) def. Kristen Rafael (ND) 6-2, 7-5
1. Kristy Frilling/Kali Krisik (ND) def. Caitlin Whoriskey/Natalie Pluskota (TENN) 8-6
2. Rosalia Alda/Zsófia Zubor (TENN) def. Cosmina Ciobanu/Shannon Mathews (ND) 8-6
3. Maria Sorbello/Kata Szekely (TENN) def. Chrissie McGaffigan/Kristen Rafael (ND) 9-8 (7-3)
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (4,6,2,5,1*)
*indicates clinching point