Feb. 16, 2007
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 26 University of Tennessee women's tennis team will look to continue its tradition of dominance over Big-10 squads, when it welcomes No. 23 Michigan to Rocky Top for an 11 a.m. contest at the Goodfriend Tennis Center on Feb. 17. With victories over No. 40 Purdue and Illinois already this season, the Lady Vols have accumulated a 44-5 (.898) record over teams from the Big 10 in the last 10 years.
The Big Orange is in the midst of a three-match winning streak, having defeated No. 26 Virginia, 4-3, last Sunday after taking out the Boilermakers and Fighting Illini two weeks prior. In that triumph over the Cavaliers, UT was led by freshman Connor Vogel and sophomore Samantha Orlin who were the only two Lady Vols to pick up wins in both their singles and doubles matches.
In doubles action, Vogel teamed with junior Ghizela Schutte to post a dramatic 9-8 (7-3) win over the UVA tandem of Kristen McVitty and Jennifer Stevens on center court. She continued her steady play at the No. 3 singles position, recording a quick, 6-2, 6-3, triumph over Stevens. She was the first Lady Vol to finish her singles match and gave her team an early 2-0 advantage. For her efforts, she was tabbed the SEC Player of the Week, becoming the first UT rookie to do so since Crystal Cleveland accomplished the feat during the 2000 season.
In the same contest, Orlin picked up her second match-clinching win of the season, defeating Lindsey Pereira, 6-1, 6-4, at No. 5 singles. She also played a key role in helping the Orange and White win the doubles point, joining forces with freshman Caitlin Whoriskey to cruise by the Cavalier pairing of Caroline Hammond and Lara Alexander, 8-5.
Michigan comes to Knoxville with a 3-1 record. The Wolverines notched wins in each of their first three contests before dropping a 6-1 decision at No. 2 Notre Dame earlier this week. Playing at the top singles position for head coach Amanda Augustus is the nation's 81st-ranked player, Jenny Kuehn, while Chisako Sugiyama has put together a team-best 16-3 worksheet this season. Sugiyama is undefeated in four dual-match decisions and has won seven-consecutive contests dating back to a 7-5, 6-1, loss to No. 90 Marion Ravelojaona of California on Nov. 4.
In 10 all-time match-ups between the two teams, Tennessee holds an 8-2 advantage, although Michigan did earn a 5-2 win in the last showdown on Feb. 19, 2006.
Vogel Named SEC Player of the Week
Following the Lady Vols' 4-3 triumph over No. 27 Virginia on Feb. 11, freshman Connor Vogel became the first UT rookie to garner Southeastern Conference Player of the Week accolades since the 2000 season, when Crystal Cleveland accomplished the feat.
Vogel was a key contributor last Sunday, as the Big Orange took down the No. 27 Cavaliers. In doubles play, she teamed with junior Ghizela Schutte to post a dramatic 9-8 (7-3) win over the UVA tandem of Kristen McVitty and Jennifer Stevens on center court. The duo rallied from a 7-5 deficit to earn the doubles-point clinching victory in a hard-fought battle that lasted over two hours.
Sophomore Samantha Orlin has been Tennessee's most clutch performer so far this season, having clinched a pair of victories with wins at the No. 5 singles position. She first did so in the Orange and White's, 4-3, triumph over No. 40 Purdue on Jan. 27, taking out Lauren Shumate, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. The Miami, Fla., native also sealed the doubles point in that contest at the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Orlin picked up her second match-clinching win against No. 27 Virginia on Feb. 11, when she claimed a 6-1, 6-4 decision over Lindsey Pereira.
Griffith on Career Doubles Wins Chart
With a career doubles record of 69-35 (.663), senior Blakeley Griffith currently sits in a tie for 11th on the all-time Tennessee doubles wins chart. The native of Middleburg, Va., recorded a record of 18-11 during her freshman campaign, went 20-14 as a sophomore and ended her junior year with 18 wins and 13 losses. She needs just 11 more victories to crack the school's top-10 list. Sisters Paula and Peta Kelly (1978-82) hold the all-time Lady Vol record with an astounding 156 wins to just eight losses, for a .951 winning percentage.
Reaching a Pair of Milestones
For the 20th straight year, Mike Patrick is at the helm of the UT women's tennis program. The 2007 season also marks the 10th consecutive for his co-head coach and wife, Sonia Hahn-Patrick, at Rocky Top. Before Hahn-Patrick joined him, Patrick had accumulated a record of 159-107 (.598). Since the 1997-98 season, however, the two have combined to post 171 wins to just 88 losses, giving Patrick a total record of 330-196 (.627).
Lady Vols in the Rankings
One of the top programs in the nation, the University of Tennessee women's team is well represented on the Fila Collegiate Tennis Rankings, earning a placing of 26th as a unit. On the singles list, a pair of Lady Vols earned mention with seniors Blakeley Griffith and Vicky Jones are ranked 12th and 87th, respectively.
Griffith was also named the top player in the Southeast Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, while Jones made the list at No. 22. Griffith and freshman Zsofia Zubor were honored as the No. 8 doubles team in the region as well.
Nearly Perfect in Home Openers
With a 4-3 victory over No. 27 Virginia on Feb. 11, co-head coach Mike Patrick improved his record in home openers at Tennessee to 19-1, while fellow head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick's record in those matches moved to 9-1. The lone defeat for both was a 5-2 loss at the hands of North Carolina on Jan. 21, 2006.
Opening the Season on a Strong Note
The Big Orange has gotten the 2007 spring season off to a good start, winning three of its first four dual matches. After dropping a hard-fought, 6-1, decision to then-No. 8 North Carolina, the Lady Vols bounced back with consecutive wins over Big 10-foes No. 40 Purdue and Illinois. UT collected its third victory of the season last Sunday, when it picked up a 4-3 win against No. 27 Virginia in the team's home opener.
UT Faces Top-Notch Schedule
Once again, the Lady Vols have one of the most challenging spring schedules in the country, as nine of their 20 opponents are ranked among the nation's top 25 squads, including three in the top 10 and six in the top 20. No. 2 Notre Dame is the Orange and White's highest ranked foe, followed by No. 4 Florida and No. 7 North Carolina. Rounding out the list of top-25 opponents are No. 11 Duke, No. 17 Georgia, No. 20 Wake Forest, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 23 Michigan and No. 25 Vanderbilt. Overall, 19 of the 20 teams on the Orange and White's slate are ranked.
Always tough, the Southeastern Conference looks to be extremely strong again this year, with all 12 of its member institutions earning placements among the top 75. The SEC schools ranked outside the top 25 are No. 33 South Carolina, No. 47 LSU, No. 50 Ole Miss, No. 52 Arkansas, No. 62 Alabama, No. 68 Auburn and No. 75 Mississippi State.
The 2006-07 Lady Vols have a distinct international flavor, as three members of the squad hail from outside the United States. Senior Vicky Jones is originally from Tyne & Wear in the United Kingdom, junior Ghizela Schutte calls Cape Town, South Africa, home and freshman Zsofia Zubor comes to Rocky Top from Nyiregyhaza, Hungary.
Recapping the Fall
The Lady Vols kicked off the fall campaign by hosting the 2006 St. Mary's Classic in Knoxville. The squad came away with three singles flight titles and another in doubles. Senior Blakeley Griffith won the flight one title by beating No. 117 Austin Smith of North Carolina, 6-4, 6-3. In the second flight, fellow classmate Vicky Jones knocked off Georgia's Kelley Hyndman, 6-1, 6-4. Lady Vol freshman Zsofia Zubor won the sixth flight title over Kentucky's Christine Johnston, 6-3, 6-0.
Two weeks later at the Furman Fall Classic, Griffith took down No. 39 Gira Schofield of South Carolina, 6-3, 6-2, to earn a third-place finish, while Jones and freshmen Connor Vogel and Caitlin Whoriskey picked up runner-up awards in their respective flights.
Griffith continued her hot play at the ITA Southeast Region Indoor Championships where she earned six consecutive singles victories, culminating in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 win over No. 96 Anastasia Zhukova of Chattanooga to claim the tournament title. She dropped just two sets throughout the entire tournament and lost three or fewer points in all but five frames.
The title earned her a spot at the ITA National Indoor Championships in the first week of November. In Columbus, Ohio, Griffith opened with a dominating 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 5 Zsuzsanna Fodor, before falling 6-1, 6-2 to No. 2 Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech.