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Comeback Bid Falls Short at Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The No. 21 University of Tennessee women’s tennis team (4-2) put together a valiant comeback attempt Friday afternoon, but fell just short of victory, dropping a 4-3 decision to 25th-ranked Michigan (2-3) at the Preston Robert Tisch Building in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Lady Vols rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the match before the Wolverines closed out the day with a hard-fought, three-set win on the second court.

For the first time this season, the Orange and White was unable to come away with the doubles point, losing all three contests in tandem action. Playing without doubles standout Zsófia Zubor due to illness, UT was forced to change up its lineup, moving the 26th-ranked duo of senior Ghizela Schutte and Rosalía Alda to the No. 1 position for the first time this year. Sophomore Caitlin Whoriskey, meanwhile, paired up with freshman Jennifer Meredith on court two, while junior Samantha Orlin and sophomore Connor Vogel comprised Tennessee’s third pairing.

Michigan wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, claiming quick triumphs at the second and third slots in the lineup to take the early 1-0 lead. The UM duo of Lindsey Howard and Denise Muresan was the first to finish, defeating Orlin and Vogel, 8-2. Shortly thereafter, Tania Mahtani and Chisako Sugiyama clinched the initial point of the afternoon for Michigan, downing Schutte and Alda by an 8-3 score.

Whoriskey and Meredith put up a bit more of a fight against Whitney Taney and Rika Tatsuno, coming back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the match up at 4-4. The Tennessee tandem, however, was unable to build on that effort, eventually falling 8-6 to close out the doubles portion of the contest.

The Wolverines continued to apply the pressure in singles play, jumping out to a commanding 3-0 lead in little time at all. The two tallies came on triumphs by Howard and Tatsuno who defeated Vogel and Alda in straight sets by scores of 6-2, 6-2, and 6-2, 7-5, respectively.

Then things got interesting, as Meredith finally got the Orange and White on the board, winning at the fourth position, 6-4, 6-4, over Muresan. Still trailing 3-1 on the scoreboard, UT was going to need victories on all three remaining singles courts if it wanted to claim its fifth win of the year. It did not look good for UT, as Orlin fell behind 0-2 in the third set of her match against Mahtani at the No. 3 spot. The Miami, Fla., native, however, battled back to win six straight games, win her match 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and move UT within one point of UM at 3-2.

Next, it was Whoriskey’s turn to shine. Once again, trouble was brewing for the Lady Vols as Whoriskey was pushed to a third set after dropping a second set tiebreaker to her opponent, Sugiyama, on center court. Much like Orlin though, the 5-8 sophomore kept fighting and was able to come away with a 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3, triumph to knot the match up at three apiece. The win kept Whoriskey’s dual-match record perfect, as she moved to 6-0 on the season from the top position in the lineup.

With the match now on the line, all eyes turned to court two, where Schutte and Taney were engaged in a mighty battle. Although Schutte dropped the first frame, 0-6, she was able to bounce back to win an extremely tight second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (5), and looked to be in control as the match headed to a third and final frame. Sugiyama had other ideas, however, winning the first three games en route to a nearly insurmountable 5-1 advantage.

Down and seemingly out, Schutte decided to mount one final comeback attempt. After moving the score to 5-2, the Capetown, South Africa, product fought off three match points from Sugiyama before winning the game and continuing her bid for victory. Finding her opponent a bit off balance from the blitz she was bringing, Schutte was able to claim two more games in quick fashion to bring the contest to a 5-5 deadlock. Unfortunately for fans of the Orange and White, Sugiyama was able to regain her composure and tallied back-to-back games to defeat Schutte, 7-5 in the third set and give Michigan its second win of the season, 4-3 over Tennessee.

The Big Orange will look to return to the win column two days from now, when it travels to Bloomington, Ind., to square off with No. 27 Indiana (6-1). First serve for that contest is set for 10 a.m. at the IU Indoor Tennis Center. Live stats for the match will be available at both www.UTLadyVols.com and www.IUHoosiers.com.

No. 25 Michigan 4, No. 21 Tennessee 3
1. Caitlin Whoriskey (UT) def. Chisako Sugiyama (UM)6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3
2. Whitney Taney (UM) def. Ghizela Schutte (UT)6-0, 6-7 (5), 7-5
3. Samantha Orlin (UT) def. Tania Mahtani (UM)6-3, 4-6, 6-2
4. Jennifer Meredith (UT) def. Denise Muresan (UM)6-4, 6-4
5. Rika Tatsuno (UM) def. Rosalía Alda (UT)6-2, 7-5
6. Lindsey Howard (UM) def. Connor Vogel (UT)6-2, 6-2
1. Tania Mahtani/Chisako Sugiyama (UM) def. No. 26 Ghizela Schutte/Rosalía Alda (UT)8-3
2. Whitney Taney/Rika Tatsuno (UM) def. Caitlin Whoriskey/Jennifer Meredith (UT)8-6
3. Lindsey Howard/Denise Muresan (UM) def. Samantha Orlin/Connor Vogel (UT)8-2
Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (6,5,4,3,1,2)



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