The Tennessee women’s tennis team continued its season on Friday at the Debbie Southern Fall Classic in Greenville, South Carolina. Thirteen teams were in the stacked tournament field, including ranked teams No. 1 Texas, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 7 Florida State, No. 8 Duke, No. 10 Georgia Tech, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 27 South Carolina, No. 29 Vanderbilt, No. 33 Wake Forest and No. 35 Furman.
Mississippi State and Clemson rounded out the tournament field.
The Lady Vols finished last season ranked No. 18 and were excited to compete against the best of the best.
“I am sure our team has the talent to be very good,” Tennessee head coach Alison Ojeda said. “What I hope to see this weekend is fierceness in the way we compete for each and every point.”
Tennessee indeed did play with that fierceness on Friday, with great success in singles and doubles play. Rain played a major factor in the morning, delaying the start time to 10 a.m., but once the Lady Vols got on the court they were off and running.
Doubles pair Rebeka Mertena and Elza Tomase started the day for Tennessee, beating Samantha Buyckx and Ali Despain from Clemson 6-3, and then narrowly edging out Ana Cruz and Misa Malkin from South Carolina 7-6(4).
No. 55 ranked Mertena went on to singles play to face No. 25 Cameron Moira from North Carolina. Mertena and Moira battled hard in what was a tense match that ended with the senior Lady Vol winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Mertena’s doubles partner Tomase went on to dominate her singles match. Tomase defeated Rosie Garcia Gross from Georgia Tech 6-2, 6-0.
Eléonora Molinaro was another Lady Vol that won a singles match. Molinaro took down Wake Forest’s Saby Nihalani 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
Tennessee doubles pairs Tenika Mertena/Elza Tomase and Esther Adeshina/Daria Kuczer both fell in their first matches, but bounced back with victories in their second matches.
Tennessee returns to the court Saturday for day two of the Debbie Southern Fall Classic.