The 35th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols tennis team took the court as the No. 11 seed in the first round of the 2018 SEC Championships on Wednesday, as they faced off against No. 12 seeded Alabama.
In doubles action, the Lady Vols picked up their first victory when Gabby Schuck and Sadie Hammond dominated the Crimson Tide duo of Alba Cortina-Pou and Smith Hinton 6-1.
In the second doubles spot, the duo of Elizabeth Profit and Chelsea Sawyer clinched the doubles point for Tennessee when they defeated Luca Fabian and Jacqueline Pelletier by a healthy margin of 6-2.
Up 1-0, the Lady Vols needed three more wins to clinch the match. The first singles victory came when Gabby Schuck defeated Alba Cortina-Pou in straight sets by a score of 6-3, 6-2.
“We played them in the regular season and they fought really hard. We had our game plan and stuck with it and fought to the end,” Schuck said.
The remainder of the singles matches would need three sets to determine a winner.
On Court 4, Kaitlin Staines picked up the third victory for the Lady Vols by defeating Ann Selim 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in a match where Staines displayed a lot of passion and emotion.
“Coach was just giving me positive feedback as always,” Staines said. “Obviously, the conditions out here today, on the receiver’s half, it was really windy. It was anyone’s game. Alison just kept me pumped up and that helped me through.”
“I’m always satisfied with her performance. Her overall performance and her emotional effort is through the roof. It affects the entire team. If you’re playing on the court next to her, you’re going to feel that energy and excitement. (Johanna) felt it, (Elizabeth) felt it. Players like her are what make college tennis so special,” coach Ojeda said.
The lone loss for the Lady Vols on the day came when Jacqueline Pelletier stole a victory from Ariadna Riley by a score of 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Sophomore Johanna Silva clinched the match for the Lady Vols when she defeated Kylie Moulin in a match that went the distance with a final score of 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
“Our team has been working hard to do something special,” Ojeda said. “We’ve been so close all year to jumping to that next level. If we really want to get where we want to go, every single player has to show up every single day. The great players learn how to compete on a daily basis. There’s no days off. That was our goal today. Alabama did a great job. Thankfully, our girls were solid on every single court.”
The Lady Vols will advance to the second round of the SEC Championships for the second consecutive year at the expense of Alabama.
The team will be back in action tomorrow when they face the No. five seed Ole Miss. The match is set to begin at six p.m. at Barksdale Stadium.