April 16, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 13th-ranked University of Tennessee women's tennis team will play for the first Southeastern Conference championship in school history this Saturday when it closes out the regular-season portion of its schedule by hosting No. 2 Georgia at Noon on the UT Varsity Courts at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Although the Bulldogs (19-2, 9-1 SEC) clinched a share of the league title with a win over Kentucky last Sunday, a win by the Lady Vols (15-4, 8-2 SEC) would make them co-champions and give them the No. 1 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament. Prior to the contest, Tennessee will honor its lone senior, Samantha Orlin, for her contributions to the program during her four-year career at Rocky Top.
The Big Orange has been on a roll heading into Saturday's showdown, having won five straight matches, including two last weekend. UT opened up with a 7-0 sweep over No. 23 Kentucky on Friday before downing 17th-rated Vanderbilt, 5-2, on Sunday. The Orange and White continued its dominance in doubles last weekend, sweeping all three contests in both matches. The Lady Vols have now swept the doubles point in four of their last five matches and have won 16 of their last 17 doubles matches since dropping the opening contest in a 4-3 loss at Arkansas on March 27.
Junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota paced the squad's efforts with a pair of wins over ranked opponents. The nation's 39th-rated pairing defeated both the No. 40 UK duo of Caroline Lilley and Carolina Escamilla, 9-7, as well as the 49th-ranked Commodore combo of Heather Steinbauer and Jackie Wu, 8-3. Whoriskey also picked up a pair of straight-set victories on center court in singles play, as she took out Escamilla, 6-4, 6-1, and No. 62 Catherine Newman, 6-0, 6-2.
The first 30 fans to arrive to the match on Saturday will receive Tennessee tennis T-shirts, while the next 100 will be given a Lady Vol bandana. There will also be an Enter-to-Win drawing for a pair of tickets to the SEC Softball Tournament to be held April 7-9 at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
Following its match against the Bulldogs, the Big Orange will open up postseason play at the SEC Tournament, April 23-26. UT has already earned a bye in the opening round, so its first match will take place on Friday at the Billingsley Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Ark.