The 13th-ranked Lady Vols women’s tennis team will play for the first Southeastern Conference championship in school history this Saturday when it closes out the regularseason portion of its schedule by hosting No. 2 Georgia at noon on the UT Varsity Courts at the Goodfriend Tennis Center.
Although the Bulldogs (19-2, 9-1 SEC) clinched a share of the league title with a win over Kentucky last Sunday, a win by the Lady Vols (15-4, 8-2 SEC) would make them co-champions and give them the No. 1 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament.
Before the contest, Tennessee will honor its lone senior, Samantha Orlin, for her contributions to the program during her four year career at Rocky Top.
UT has been on a roll heading into Saturday’s showdown, having won five straight matches, including two last weekend. UT opened up with a 7-0 sweep over No. 23 Kentucky on Friday before downing No. 17 Vanderbilt, 5-2, on Sunday. UT continued its dominance in doubles last weekend, sweeping all three contests in both matches. The Lady Vols have now swept the doubles point in four of their last five matches and have won 16 of their last 17 doubles matches, since dropping the opening contest in a 4-3 loss at Arkansas on March 27.
Junior Caitlin Whoriskey and freshman Natalie Pluskota paced the squad’s efforts with a pair of wins over ranked opponents. The nation’s 39th-rated pairing defeated both the No. 40 UK duo of Caroline Lilley and Carolina Escamilla, 9-7, as well as the 49th-ranked Commodore combo of Heather Steinbauer and Jackie Wu, 8-3. Whoriskey also picked up a pair of straight-set victories on center court in singles play, as she took out Escamilla, 6-4, 6-1, and No. 62 Catherine Newman, 6-0, 6-2.
Following its match against the Bulldogs, the Vols will open up postseason play at the SEC Tournament, April 23-26. UT has already earned a bye in the opening round, so its first match will take place on Friday at the Billingsley Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Ark.