March 3, 2011
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 18-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team will hit the road this weekend for its first taste of Southeastern Conference play, heading to Alabama on Friday and Auburn on Sunday.
The Lady Vols (6-3) haven't played a match since falling to No. 9 Miami, 4-1, at the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 20. Co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said that the break came at the right time.
"I think the rest worked out well," Hahn-Patrick said." We played three days in a row at ITA Indoors and that was pretty tough physically. To be able to have a weekend without a match where we were able to just practice and work on things outside has really worked to our advantage."
Sonia Hahn-Patrick discusses this weekend's matches
Tennessee opens SEC play with a tough test at No. 34 Alabama. The Crimson Tide currently sit at 7-2 and boast the nation's No. 7-rated doubles team of Alexa Guarachi and Courtney McLane. Guarachi is the defending SEC Player of the Week.
UT leads the all-time series against Alabama, 30-12. The Lady Vols have won six straight matches against the Tide, dating back to 2006. Against Auburn, Tennessee holds a 28-6 lead in all-time, including 19 consecutive wins.
Regardless of opponent, Hahn-Patrick knows that the SEC is one of the nation's toughest conferences, something she's tried to instill in her team.
"This is what we've been preparing for all season," Hahn-Patrick said. "All of the matches we've played prior to this weekend have been great preparation and we're ready to go."
This weekend's matches will be played outdoors, weather permitting. Tennessee has yet to play outside this season, but Hahn-Patrick said that her team is prepared for the adjustment
"We've been fortunate to get a couple of good weeks of outdoor practice," Hahn-Patrick said. "It's a totally different mentality going from indoors to outdoors. You've got to be tougher mentally and a lot more patient. It's a more physical game. We've talked about this with the team and I think they're ready to go."
Friday's match starts at 4 p.m. ET, while Sunday's begins at 2 p.m. ET.
Live scoring for Friday's match will be available at www.rolltide.com, while Sunday's match will have live results posted on www.auburntigers.com.
Fans are reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UTLadyVols. Become a fan of Lady Vol Tennis on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ladyvoltennis.