The Tennessee women’s tennis team will face two SEC rivals this weekend in No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 15 LSU at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Tennessee (10-3) plays Texas A&M (14-1) on Friday at 12:00 p.m. and LSU (12-2) on Sunday at 12:00 p.m.
“I see a variety of strengths with these two teams, but I also see tons of strengths in our team as a whole,” Tennessee head coach Alison Ojeda said. “We saw LSU a few weekends ago at FSU at the ITA Kick-off. ... We are a better team today than when we were four or five weeks ago. We haven’t played Texas A&M since last year and our team has gotten a ton better without a doubt since then.”
The Lady Vols are coming off a weekend split where they lost to No. 2 Georgia, 4-0, but rebounded against Chattanooga with a 7-0 victory.
Tennessee dropped the doubles point against Georgia and lost three of their five singles matches. Kaitlin Staines and Rebeka Mertena were winning their matches but did not finish once Georgia clinched.
“We watched film, and while we broke down some tennis, we mostly broke down the mental side of the game,” Sadie Hammond said. “Coach gave us three things to keep in mind this week during practice in preparation for the matches this weekend: Be mentally tough, have killer instincts and execute.”
Staines has won three singles matches in a row entering this weekend’s play and Mertena has won five in a row. Maia Haumuller has seen singles success as well, as she has won 12 of her 14 singles matches this spring.
New ITA rankings were released this week and doubles duo Staines and Hammond are ranked No. 8. Hammond got even more recognition as she is now ranked No. 65 in singles.
“It’s a really cool feeling to be in the top 10 in doubles along with Kaitlin and to be ranked in singles again,” Hammond said. “It feels so great to not only have my work rewarded but to also see Kaitlin’s work pay off as well. It is great to see the work that we have put in being validated.”
The Lady Aggies come into Knoxville after sweeping Alabama, 4-0. This current team has joined the 2013 squad for the best 15-match stretch, 14-1, in program history and have won their first two SEC matches since 2013.
Texas A&M have rankings in both doubles and singles. Jayci Goldsmith and Tatiana Makarova are No. 31 in the ITA doubles ranking. Goldsmith is No. 100 in the ITA singles ranking.
LSU will come to Knoxville after their bout with Georgia on Friday. The Lady Tigers just beat Auburn, 4-1.
LSU’s reigning NCAA doubles champion pair of Jessica Golovin and Eden Richardson are ranked No. 3 in doubles, which is the highest LSU doubles ranking since 2000. The duo have a 9-1 record and are on a seven-match win streak.
Eden Richardson of LSU is ranked No. 15 in ITA singles rankings.