Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tennessee Upsets Michigan 4-0; Notre Dame Defeats Cal 4-2

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Athens, GA--

No. 13 seed Tennessee won a tense and long doubles point from No. 4 Michigan, then went on to rollow over the Wolverines in singles to take a 4-0 win in late afternoon action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The Volunteers No. 1 team of Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota watched on the sidelines after an 8-5 win, urging their teammates on courts 2 and 3 to complete the sweep. They got it, but it took a 12-10 tiebreaker by Rosalia Alda and Zsofia Zubor over Wolverines Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian, while court three was also in a tiebreaker. Michigan had saved two match points at No. 3, when Tennessee's Maria Sorbello and Kata Szekely were serving at 7-6 against Tania Mahtani and Denise Muresan. Then on court two, there were several match points on both sides--with both matches going on at once it was impossible to keep track--but it was the Tennessee team that won the last one.

Michigan head coach Ronni Bernstein thought that the loss of the doubles point may have disheartened her team a little, and she described their performance in singles as "flat."

"We tried to claw our way back, but we just couldn't," she said. "Tennessee played great. We lost five of six first sets in singles to a Tennessee team that was fired up. They wanted it more and they played better on the big points."

There weren't many big points in the singles, with Tennessee dominating. Whoriskey, playing No. 1 against Muresan, had the motivation of a loss to her opponent.

"I played her in January and she beat me pretty bad," said Whoriskey, who won 6-2, 6-1 as dusk settled on the Henry Feild courts. "I stayed focused and had a game plan in mind and kept with it throughout the match. I wanted to win for the team as well as to get revenge for that match."

It was Alda who clinched for the Volunteers at No. 3 singles after Szekely had taken the second point at No. 6 and Whoriskey the third at No. 1. Alda defeated Mimi Nguyen 7-5, 6-2 and she was happy to post the win for her team, which has suffered a lot of injuries throughout this year.

"We've been working really, really hard, and we've been waiting for this moment," Alda said. "It was a great opportunity."

Fifth-seeded Notre Dame had been looking forward to a rematch with No. 12 Cal, who had beaten them 4-2 in last year's semifinals in College Station. The Fighting Irish got their revenge, taking Thursday's late afternoon match by the same 4-2 score.

Head coach Jay Louderback said he didn't discuss last year's loss with his team, but knew they had talked among themselves about it.

"We lost a tough match to them last year and we were right in that match and we knew this was going to be another tough one."

Notre Dame won the doubles point with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 and they were up 7-4 in the match that didn't finish. Louderback changed his doubles lineup ten matches ago, and he's pleased with the results.

"We've lost one doubles match since and won every point," Louderback said. "We haven't lost at 1, lost once at 2 and haven't lost at 3. We play better when our doubles are good, and we're a tough team to beat four singles, and I felt that was such a big factor for us today."

Shannon Mathews gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead by cruising past 18th-ranked Marina Cossou 6-3, 6-0. Mari Andersson got Cal on the board at No. 3 singles defeating Chrissie McGaffigan 6-4, 6-0 and Jana Juricova brought the Bears even with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Kristy Frilling at No. 1.

But at the bottom of the lineup, the Fighting Irish took charge, with Kali Krisik making it 3-2 Notre Dame with a win at No. 5 over Annie Goransson, and Notre Dame's Cosmina Ciobanu made certain that Cal wouldn't make it three finals in a row, posting a 6-2, 6-4 win over Kasia Siwosz at No. 4 to set up Saturday's quarterfinal with Tennessee.

Louderback is not expecting to see the same Tennessee team that his team beat 5-2 back in February.

"When we played them earlier in the year they were beat up," Louderback said. "They've done an unbelievable job of getting through this year with the injuries they've had. Now they've got more kids healthy and we're looking at it like it's the first time we've played them."

For complete scores, see the recaps available in the interactive draws at ncaa.com.