Staines v. Auburn

Kaitlin Staines during her match against Auburn on Mar. 29, 2018. 

The Tennessee women’s tennis team returned to its winning ways with a successful home stretch over the weekend.

After experiencing a drought in the win column, the Lady Vols regrouped in a dominant fashion as they welcomed the Auburn Tigers to Knoxville. After a heated battle, Tennessee notched a 4-2 victory.

On Saturday, the Lady Vols took part in a doubleheader. In the first half, they defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 4-2, respectively. A few hours later, they completely swept Western Kentucky off the court by a match score of 4-0.

After going through a tough stretch of games, the Lady Vols have found new life as they have sparked a three-game winning streak, two of those being conference victories. There have been multiple matches where the Lady Vols could’ve picked up wins, but a few bounces just didn’t go in their favor.

“The girls have been fighting so hard over the last six weeks and really over the entire season,” head coach Alison Ojeda said. “Coming into SEC play, the level jumps up a bit. We’ve been right there in every single match, had match points in some of them, had opportunities to win individual matches in a lot of them.”

Now, the Lady Vols will look to keep the fire burning as they embark on their final road trip of the season to Mississippi. On Thursday, they will take on Mississippi State, and on Saturday, they will battle against Ole Miss.

Mississippi State holds a 14-7 record on the season, while Ole Miss is 15-5 on the year.

“Let’s confront it and let’s go out and compete,” Ojeda said. “Our girls did an unbelievable job of that. We just responded incredibly well. When we can do that, I think you’re looking at a really good team. It was a really good weekend and I couldn’t be more excited to get on the court tomorrow.”

Staines named SEC Freshman of the Week:

Behind the engine that churned out three victories for the Lady Vols was Kaitlin Staines, earning her the honor of SEC Freshman of the Week.

After a recent flurry of strong play, Staines was promoted to the No. 4 singles spot, along with playing at the No. 1 doubles spot. She didn’t shy away from the moment, as she responded with two singles victories along with an impressive doubles victory.

“When you go out and recruit players, you want to make sure you’re bringing in a high-caliber player who also fits the culture that you’re wanting to create, and Staines does exactly that,” Ojeda said. “When she has players like Sadie (Hammond) and Gabby (Schuck) who have been in the program for a few years, when she has people like them to look up to and watch just how they do things on a daily basis, it’s unbelievable … With the other freshmen and sophomores on the team, Staines has been the glue of it all …

“I think what makes her so special is not only the fact that she is a good tennis player, but she’s just an unbelievable team player. Three years from now she can be the leader as a junior. The culture is headed in the right direction, and with someone like Staines on board and doing so well at this moment, she’s only going to get better.”

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