Kentucky Wins SEC Tournament Opener

  • Playing in front of a home crowd in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the Kentucky women?s tennis team downed 11th-seeded Mississippi State, 4-0, to advance to Friday?s quarterfinal.

    The No. 6-seed Wildcats easily took the doubles point for a 1-0 lead before scoring three straight-set singles victories to clinch the match. With the win, UK improved to 18-6 on the season and moved on to face third-seeded Vanderbilt at 10 a.m. on Friday on the Stadium Courts. Mississippi State?s season ends at 5-14.

    ?Definitely, when you are playing teams from the SEC, the score might seem worse than it actually was, but Mississippi State is a tough team,? Kentucky coach Carlos Drada said. ?A lot of courts were close. I?m glad our kids were able to withstand some of the elements that we were seeing. It was a little bit chilly towards the end. But we were able to keep our leads and it helped us throughout the match. Every player was giving themselves every chance to win.?

    Freshman Whitney Spencer clinched the match at No. 5 with a 6-2, 7-5 win. After cruising through the first set, it appeared she would nail down the match quickly, but DeAndra Saddler rallied from a 5-2 second-set deficit to force Spencer to win an extra game.

    Kentucky got in position to win after easy victories from All-SEC members Joelle Schwenk and Sarah Woestmann on courts two and three. Schwenk coasted to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Elna de Villiers, moving to 28-10 on the year, including 15-2 at No. 2.

    Woestmann took a bit longer to knock off Daniela Juskova, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3. She improved to 20-3 this season.

    When the match was suspended Kentucky was in good shape on all three other courts as well. On court one, Kim Coventry was up a set as was Jessica Giuggioli at No. 6. On court four, Carolina Escamilla trailed Renee Joseph by a set, but led 5-4 in the second.

    ?I think we fought hard and that was the main thing. Our goal was to come here and play competitive tennis,? Mississippi State coach Tracy Lane said. ?We knew we had lost to them 6-1 in the regular season, and a few of our matches in regular season were not very close at all. Our goal was to turn that around and play a lot more competitively. We did that today, so I?m happy with that.?

    In doubles, the ninth-ranked duo of Coventry and Schwenk won 8-0 over Martina Banikova and Valeriya Makarycheva at No. 1. Carolina Escamilla and Woestmann clinched the point with an 8-4 victory against Renee Joseph and Juskova.

    Vanderbilt and Kentucky met on Saturday with the Commodores escaping with the win. Vandy scored three three-set wins in the match and took the doubles point in a tiebreaker in the match.