The Lady Vols golf team will travel to the College of Charleston Sunday for the opening match of the 2018-19 season. Tennessee will compete in twelve events this fall and twelve events in the spring before postseason play starts on April 17 in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Lady Vols will be led by Judi Pavon who enters her 19th season as head coach. Pavon received a contract extension this June through the 2020-21 season.
“Judi has done a good job of building and maintaining a program that achieves at a high level across the board,” Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer said. “Her student-athletes are competitive on the golf course, they excel academically and they have a strong record of service throughout the community.”
The Lady Vols are coming off a 2017-18 season that saw them go 73-81-2 and claim the No. 10 seed in the Tallahassee Regional. Michaela Williams advanced to the NCAA Championship where she finished 27th.
“It was a really good experience. It would have been a lot better of an experience if we could have made it as a team,” Williams said. “I played well at Regionals, and Nationals went well too. I feel like it’s given me confidence coming into this season to be a big contributor for the team to make it.”
The Lady Vols had a strong first half of the season, including three top three finishes to end the fall season. However, Tennessee stumbled in the spring season, finishing 12th in the SEC Championship.
Pavon hopes a young and competitive bunch can help avoid the pitfall of last year's squad.
“This is a really competitive group for who will be in the lineup, so having to compete for your spot a little bit longer into the year might be good for us,” Pavon said. “We started off the spring poorly, and it was just hard to get anything going.”
Tennessee will be replacing Anna Newell and Blakesly Warren, who they lost to graduation. The two combined for 244 rounds of golf in their Tennessee career. Pavon will lean on youth to replace the production from the four year starters.
“We have a good young competitive group. One of our freshman made the lineup, Mikayla Bardwell,” Pavon said. “We have two other freshman that are up-and-comers, and two other seniors that are good. Then Maria Smith (sophomore) played in a lot of tournaments last year made the lineup, and gained a lot of confidence playing over the summer.”
The 2017-18 season lasted shorter than they would have liked, and the goal for this year’s squad is to extend it.
“Our goal is to make it past the cut and make it to match play at the SEC (tournament), and then getting through Regionals into the National Championship.” Pavon said.
The Lady Vols home opener is September 17-18 in the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship at Cherokee Country Club.