The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer tennis team took a hard-fought 4-3 match from Vanderbilt on Saturday to advance to the championship match of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Starkville, Miss.
The last time Tennessee met Vanderbilt on the courts, UT came from behind to win the doubles point and held on to win, 4-3. This time, Vanderbilt came from behind to take the doubles point. The UT pairing of Crystal Cleveland and Alison Ojeda delivered th
e No. 2 match with an 8-4 defeat of Aleke Tsoubanos and Sarah Riske. The Commodores pulled even with an 8-3 victory at the No. 3 doubles slot as Vandy's Kelly Schmandt and Jenny Miller avenged an earlier loss to Brooke Cordell and Agnes Wiski. At the No.
1 position, Vilmarie Castellvi and Kim Gates were up 6-5 but were unable to capitalize and Julie Ditty and Kate Burson rallied to clinch the doubles point at 8-6.
Behind 0-1 in the match, Tennessee needed to win four out of the six singles contests to stay alive in the tournament. Things started to look bleak for the Lady Vols as Vanderbilt captured the first match at No. 1 when Ditty outplayed Ojeda, 6-2. 6-1. The
Commodores' lead would grow to 3-0 when Tsoubanos got the better of Cleveland, 6-1, 6-2.
Co-head coaches Mike Patrick and Sonia Hahn-Patrick's squad started to claw their way back as Gates picked up the No. 2 match from Riske, 6-2, 6-4. Cordell rallied from being down 4-1 in the first to defeat Schmandt in a 6-4, 6-1 decision. Wiski tied the
tilt, handing Burson a 6-4, 6-2 setback. All eyes turned to court three where the deciding match was being played out by Castellvi and Miller. Castellvi would shine, clinching UT's right to advance with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 triumph.
The Lady Vols (23-2) met fourth-seeded Georgia in the finals on Sunday at 1 p.m. Results were not available at press time.