In their last regular season action of the season, the Tennessee Volunteers hosted Arkansas as they looked to finish in a high note.
The No. 31 Lady Vols fell short of that goal as the 49th Arkansas Razorbacks took home the victory 4-2. The loss dropped the Lady Vols to 17-10 and 3-10 in SEC play.
Kaitlin Staines, a freshman from Wagga Wagga, Australia, was the star of the day, as she helped knock off a higher ranked duo with Adriana Riley and competed in the day’s most exciting match on the singles side.
Staines raced out to a 6-1 win in the first set before falling back and losing a heartbreaker (6-1, 3-6, 4-6).
“She’s a great tennis player and she was able to come out on fire and swinging,” Alison Ojeda said, “She’s young, so she’s somebody we know has a ton of room to grow. I Think she is going to be a future All-American here.”
The Riley and Staines defeated the No. 37 ranked duo of the Razorbacks 5-2, while Sadie Hammond and Gabby Shuck took out another pair of Razorbacks 5-4 to give the Lady Vols the first point of the day.
“The thing she (Staines) has to take away from today is: the fact that college tennis teaches you something that other levels of tennis don’t,” Ojeda said. “It forces you to not only start that way, but finish that way too.”
The Lady Vols only secured one win on the singles side, but that did not keep them from making fans stay on the edge of their seats.
Johanna Silva was the only one to secure a win on that side of the matchup, but Gabby Shuck was on her way to securing another victory in singles before the Razorbacks secured the victory for the day.
Giulia Pairone, Arkansas’s No.1 player in both singles, doubles and ranked no. 51st nationally, ended the day with one win and one loss today, which came in doubles.
“She’s a heck of a tennis player,” Coach Ojeda said, “We saw her play last year. They came out did a good job and played well.”
The Lady Volunteers turn their regular season into postseason on Wednesday when they will host the SEC Championships. After what was a strong start to the season, the Lady Vols will try to replicate some of those performances against the SEC’s best.
While today’s result wasn’t the result they wanted, there were promising signs.
“The intensity was good,” Ojeda said. “This just came down to tennis. It was windy for us and it was windy for them. We were energetic, they were energetic. It simply came down to execution today.”