Women's Tennis Rallies Against Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. ? In an emotional five-hour match, Kentucky freshmen Sarah Woestmann and Whitney Spencer each scored intense three-set victories to rally UK from a 3-1 deficit to a 4-3 win on the road against Auburn in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Trailing 3-1 after dropping the doubles point as well as two straight-set singles matches on courts one and three, the Wildcats battled back for a stunning win, their fifth straight in the series with the Tigers.

At No. 2, senior Joelle Schwenk cut the deficit in half with a tough 7-5, 7-5 win over Melissa Koning setting the stage for a wild finish that took nearly another two hours and featured a pair of three-set thrillers. The win for was Schwenk?s 12th in her last 13 matches.

Despite the win on court two, prospects for a UK victory still looked bleak as Woestmann was a set down on court four and in a fierce battle in the second. As the set went back-and-forth, Auburn?s Whitney Chappell forced a tiebreaker. Chappell led 5-3 in the breaker and appeared ready to clinch the match for the Tigers, but Woestmann rallied valiantly to send it to a final set, which she won to tie the match at 2-6, 7-6, 7-5.

That left Spencer on at No. 5 against Jil Hastenrath. Early on, it looked like Spencer would cruise after dominating the first set. However, Hastenrath battled back to send the deciding point to a third-set by winning a tight 10-8 tiebreaker. Going back-and-forth ? knowing during the entire final set that the team result rested on her match ? Spencer lifted Kentucky to victory, 6-1, 6-7, 7-5.

The Wildcats improved to 9-1 overall, the best start for the program in 20 years, and start conference play 1-0. Kentucky returns to action on Sunday against Alabama.

Auburn jumped out to an early lead by shocking UK to win the doubles point, just the second time this year Kentucky has lost the opening point. The nation?s second-ranked duo of Schwenk and Kim Coventry were upset on No. 1 by Koning and Alex Haney, 8-3. The Tigers clinched the point with an 8-5 victory over Carolina Escamilla and Woestmann at No. 2.

Once singles began, UK knotted the match quickly when Jessica Giuggioli crushed Kelly Adams, 6-1, 6-0, on No. 6. Auburn came back with a pair of victories as 57th-ranked Fani Chifchieva beat Coventry on court one, 6-2, 6-3, and Haney beat Escamilla, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 3 to make it 3-1 and set up the wild comeback.