Junior Maria Sorbello
April 1, 2010
By Donnie Conley, Media Relations Student Assistant
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--The No. 14-ranked Tennessee women's tennis team (11-5, 5-1 SEC) will hit the road this weekend, heading southwest to Mississippi for a pair of matches against SEC West foes.
On Friday, the Lady Vols will head to Oxford, Miss., to tangle with the No. 35 Ole Miss Rebels (9-4, 3-3 SEC) at 3 p.m. central at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The Rebels dropped two SEC matches last weekend, falling 4-3 at No. 20 South Carolina on Friday and 6-1 at home against No. 4 Florida on Sunday.
UT is just 3-3 on the road in the spring season, compared to 7-0 at home. Tennessee is also trying to recover from several injuries, a fact that co-head coach Mike Patrick said is crucial to his team's postseason success.
"Being on the road in our conference is always tough and Ole Miss has a real good team," Patrick said. "We're coming back from some injuries so we're trying to work some people back into the lineup.
"Right now, our most important thing is to get ourselves as good as we can be for postseason play. We're going to compete as best as we can but we have to get those guys ready and we can't do that unless they get out there and play."
Mississippi boasts one of the nation's top doubles tandems, the No. 13-ranked team of sophomore Kristi Boxx and junior Karen Nijssen. Doubles play has been a strength for the Lady Vols this season, as UT has taken the doubles point in 14 of 16 spring matches.
Tennessee has managed this without sophomore Natalie Pluskota, who has missed the past nine matches due to injury. Pluskota and senior Caitlin Whoriskey are the No. 1 doubles duo in the nation according to the latest ITA rankings.
Whoriskey has paired with junior Maria Sorbello to combine for the No. 66 pair according to the ITA rankings, and the duo sports a 9-0 record in dual match play. Senior Zsófia Zubor and junior Rosalía Alda also find themselves among the best pairs in the nation, ranking 22nd.
"We've been very lucky to have two very good (doubles) teams," Patrick said. "We've played without a third team a lot of times and the third team we're putting out there right now is just getting back (from injury).
"Our No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams are all upperclassmen, so we've got experience. We've counted on them to win almost every time and they have 14 times so that's pretty good."
UT will then make the 97-mile trek southeast to Starkville, Miss., to face No. 72 Mississippi State (9-7, 1-5 SEC) at 1 p.m. central time Sunday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.
After an 8-1 start to dual match play, the Lady Bulldogs have dropped six of their previous seven matches, including three straight conference losses. Tennessee holds a 30-4 edge against MSU all-time, winning the previous five matchups.
Live scoring for both matches will be available on UTLadyVols.com. Fans are also reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/UTLadyVols.