Both seniors Caitlin Whoriskey and Zsófia Zubor captured double’s wins No. 100 of their careers, as the 12th-rated University of Tennessee women’s tennis team (11-5, 5-1 SEC) pulled out a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over No. 22 Arkansas, on a stormy Sunday afternoon.
“We’re still playing a little injured and it showed in the score,” Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick said. “I am, however, still proud of everyone on the team and the effort they all gave.”
The day kicked off with Tennessee winning the doubles point for the 14th time this season. Whoriskey and junior partner Maria Sorbello, ranked 57th in the nation, scored an 8-5 win over Arkansas’ Anouk Tigu and Stephanie Roy, on court one. Clinching the doubles win for UT was the 18th-ranked duo of junior Rosalia Alda and Zubor on the second court. The pair dropped only four games en route to an 8-4 defeat of Kate Lukomskaya and Kelsey Sundaram.
By virtue of winning their respective matches, Whoriskey and Zubor each collected their 100th career doubles victory, placing them tied for fifth on the Lady Vols’ all-time career doubles list. Both are five spots out of fourth place but, right now, they are focused on the next opponent more than climbing the ladder.
“Congrats to Zsófia and me on winning No. 100,” Whoriskey said. “It’s just a number, however, and with a lot of the season left to play, we need to focus on those upcoming matches. I’m sure after it’s all over, we will both be very excited about the accomplishment.”
Unfortunately, the combo of junior Jennifer Meredith and freshman Kata Szekely were unable to overcome the Lady Razorbacks’ Claudine Paulson and Valentina Strakova. The Big Orange pair fell, 8-3.
Shortly after the conclusion of doubles, players took the courts for singles play. Tennessee’s 1-0 lead over Arkansas was quickly erased as the Hogs’ Roy beat Zubor, 6-3, 6-1. Just as quickly as Arkansas tied the match, Whoriskey, ranked No. 12 in singles, put the Orange and White ahead again, after dispatching Tigu, 6-4, 6-2.
Arkansas went on to claim a 3-2 edge over UT after securing victories on courts two and three. Lukomskaya of the Lady Razorbacks pushed her match with No. 58 Sorbello into three sets, ultimately winning 1-6, 6-4, 7-5. Alda was also beat in three stanzas in her competition with Arkansas’ Emily Carbone. Carbone claimed the victory behind scores of 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
With UT’s two-match winning streak hanging in the balance, all the pressure fell on Meredith and sophomore Katie Lee, playing on courts five and six, respectively.
“I don’t think anybody was quite sure what was going to happen,” Patrick said. “Jen’s match was now in its third set, and this was the first real pressure situation Katie has been in all season.”
Meredith, who has been playing intermittently during the spring, dropped only two games to win the first set over Sundaram, 6-2. Sundaram answered by winning set two 6-1. The momentum shift did not last long as Meredith pushed to a large lead in the third frame. The Lady Vol kept the lead, winning the third set and, ultimately, the match, behind a 6-2 score.
With the team score tied at 3-3, all eyes turned to court six where Lee was in a tight battle with Arkansas’ Claudine Paulson. Lee already had the first set under her belt, 6-2, and was tied 4-4 in the second set before she busted things open. Her teammates cheered her to a 6-4 triumph in set two and her first match-clinching victory of the season.
“We could not have won without the strength and stamina of Jen and Katie,” Patrick said. “Both players really pulled through and gave themselves, and the team, a big confidence boost.”
Tennessee heads to the Magnolia State this weekend for a Friday match against Ole Miss at 3 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. contest with Mississippi State, two days later.