Wildcats Hold Back Tide for 4-3 Win

March 27, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Wildcats (11-4 overall, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) lived up to their name as they battled the No. 17 Crimson Tide (13-2, 3-2 SEC) Friday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Alabama made a late rally after UK grabbed a 3-0 lead, but it was not enough as the No. 19 Cats secured the wild win over the Tide, 4-3.

"This was a really important step for our team," head coach Carlos Drada stated. "Alabama is a really strong and talented SEC team. Our girls played with a purpose today and were able to stay poised under such pressure."

The match had seemed easily in Kentucky's favor as they swept doubles and won the first two singles points on courts five and six. But it was senior Carolina Escamilla who gave Kentucky its victory late in the afternoon at the Alabama Tennis Stadium.

Escamilla won the first set 6-3 over UA's Courtney McLane. UK then took a 3-0 lead over the competition after freshman Caroline Lilley downed Taylor Lindsey 6-1, 6-2 at six and junior Whitney Spencer defeated Shelley Godwin, 6-3, 6-3 on five. Just when the Medellin, Colombia, native entered the second set, No. 117 Megan Broderick fell to No. 105 Tiffany Welcher of Alabama 6-3, 6-4 on court one and junior Christine Johnston was battling from behind in a three-set match.

Johnston dropped the 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 decision to Paulina Bigos, bringing the Tide within striking distance at 3-2. Back on court two, Escamilla was putting up a fight in the second set but McLane nabbed the win, 6-4. Wrapping up court four was Kentucky's Lauren Meier. Meier's first set was close but Alabama's Meritt Emery sealed the first set win, 7-6. Emery went on to overpower Meier 6-4 in the second set to even the score.

And then there was one. Escamilla, still combating with McLane, entered the third and final set, as each one held her serve. Kentucky's lone senior took the score up to 6-5 and found the break she was looking for, capturing the Blue and White victory, 7-5.

"Carolina played with such intensity during the most crucial stretches of the match," Drada said. "She exemplified what all of our players did today against a really strong and disciplined Alabama team."

The win gave Kentucky just its second conference win and will carry momentum into Sunday's match against No. 31 Auburn (9-6, 2-2 SEC). The Cats will return home to host the Tigers in the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex on March 29 at noon ET. Auburn is coming off a 4-3 loss to No. 26 Vanderbilt.

For the most up to date information and coverage of the Wildcat women's tennis team visit, www.ukathletics.com.

#19 Kentucky 4, #17 Alabama 3

Doubles
1. No. 29 Escamilla/Lilley (UK) def. Welcher/McLane (UA), 8-5
2. Johnston/ Broderick (UK) def. Bigos/ Lindsey (UA), 9-8
3. Meier/Spencer (UK) def. Emery/Godwin (UA), 9-8

Singles
1. #105 Tiffany Welcher (UA) def. #117 Megan Broderick (UK), 6-3, 6-4
2. Caroline Escamilla (UK) def. Courtney McLane (UA), 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
3. Paulina Bigos (UA) def. Christine Johnston (UK), 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
4. Meritt Emery (UA) def. Lauren Meier (UK), 7-6(4), 6-4
5. Whitney Spencer (UK) def. Shelley Godwin (UA), 6-3, 6-3
6. Caroline Lilley (UK) def. Taylor Lindsey (UA), 6-1, 6-2

Order of Finish
Doubles: 1, 2, 3 Singles: 6, 5, 1, 3, 4, 2*