The Tennessee women’s tennis team turned in another impressive singles outing, taking first place in the Tennessee Fall Invite for the first time since 2013.
Powered by undefeated singles play on Sunday afternoon, the Lady Vols improved to 18-1 in singles play during the weekend and won the event at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Head coach Alison Ojeda cites consistency and hard work as the reasons the team swept the tournament, and her players are in close agreement.
“It was a deserved win,” Ojeda, a former All-American tennis star at Tennessee in 2001, said. “The team put in hard work and trained with vision and hunger. The SEC is a long road and we need to keep putting in hard work and training.”
It was not just a sweep of the tournament, it was a dominant one. Five of the six singles matches on Sunday ended after just two sets, the only exception being a match between Ariadna Riley and Vanderbilt’s Peyton Pesavento.
Senior Sadie Hammond turned in a career weekend and went undefeated in singles and doubles tournament play. On Sunday, she beat Vanderbilt’s Anna Brylin 6-4 and 7-6 (7-4).
Despite this, she sees it as just another reason to keep working on her game and the team as a whole.
“Some things I could work on overall are the little things like my first serve percentage and opening up the court,” Hammond said.
Riley, a junior, earned the lone three-set win on Sunday. After falling 4-6 in the first set, she controlled the following two sets, winning 6-4 and 6-1, respectively.
She said her team’s mindset was evident across the board.
“This entire weekend we came out and took care of business,” Riley said. “We were really motivated and determined and came out and executed everything really well. I think we showed a lot of heart this weekend and I’m really looking forward to the season starting and carrying this on.”
A glowing example of how victories like these can influence a team and its younger players can be seen in Kaitlin Staines. The Australian sophomore partnered with Hammond, and the duo went undefeated in doubles play.
It was not only her doubles play that was effective, her singles record is just as impressive. On top of a strong 6-1, 6-2 outing yesterday, she closed the event with another great outing against Anna Ulyashchenko, winning 6-2, 6-2 in a very quick match.
“It’s definitely a great confidence booster,” Staines said. “We’re going to enjoy these wins today and tomorrow, but when we come back on Tuesday it’s back to business. This was Sadie and I’s first time playing together and I think we really executed what we wanted to do and I’m looking forward to playing with her going forward.”
Three other straight-set victories were earned by Tenika McGiffin (6-3, 6-3), Johanna Silva (6-4, 6-3) and Gabby Schuck (7-5, 6-1).
Tennessee will send a few players to a final fall tournament at the Notre Dame Invitational next weekend, while others are done for the fall season.