Sunday, March 05, 2006
LEXINGTON, Ky. In dramatic fashion on the road Sunday afternoon, the Alabama (3-6, 1-1 SEC) women’s tennis team upset defending Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky, 4-3.
Robin Stephenson, who faced a deficit of 5-3 in the third set, fought off match point at the net and stormed back to clinch the win and even the Tide’s SEC record at 1-1 and give head coach Jenny Mainz her first win over the Wildcats.
“This was a total team effort today,” Mainz said. “Today’s effort has been unmatched and we received contributions from everyone on our team.”
Stephenson not only fought off a match point, but had to scratch her way back into the match after dropping the first set to Kim Coventry 6-4. She then won the second set 6-2 and closed out the match with a 7-5 third-set win.
The day started on a good note for Alabama. For the second time in three days the Tide jumped out in front by claiming the doubles point. In a match that served as a microcosm for the how things would finish, Stephenson and Ashley Bentley pulled one out at No. 1 doubles, 9-8.
Unlike Friday’s match however, this time Bama refused to let the lead slip away, even when things began to look bleak.
Stephenson, Bentley and Shelley Godwin all dropped their opening set in singles. Only Mari Muller got off to a smooth start. She rode the momentum she gained from an 8-6 win in doubles with partner Andrea Brenes to cruise to a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 3 singles over Joelle Schwenek and put Alabama halfway to victory.
“Mari was huge for us today,” Mainz said. “She played extremely well and without her we wouldn’t be celebrating this win.”
That’s when things began to turn back in Alabama’s favor. Stephenson and Bentley both took control of their matches and won the second sets to force a third. After Bentley went up a break point and finished off Lara Maurer at No. 2, Stephenson closed things out at No. 1.
“There were times today where we just had to fight just to hang on,” Mainz said. “Kentucky is a very competitive, feisty and well coached team, but I thought that we refused to lose today. We’ve been in situations like this before. We relied on our experience and it came through for us.”
Stephenson’s and Bentley’s wins in singles moved each of them one step closer to the Tide’s all-time record for career wins, a mark they already hold in doubles. Stephenson now has 83 wins, seven shy of the record, while Bentley sits two wins behind her with 81.
No. 55 Alabama def. No. 28 UK, 4-3
1. Stephenson/Bentley (Bama) def. Coventry/Escamilla (UK) - 9-8
2. Muller/Brenes (Bama) def. Maurer/Schwenk (UK) - 8-6
3. Petrisko/Winebrenner(UK) def. Mcelveen/Ayala (Bama) - 8-2
Order of finish: 3, 2, 1
1. Robin Stephenson (Bama) def. Kim Coventry (UK) - 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
2. Ashley Bentley (Bama) def. Lara Maurer (UK) - 6-7, 6-3, 6-4
3. Mari Muller (Bama) def. Joelle Schwenk (UK) - 7-5, 6-4
4. Danielle Petrisko (UK) def. Shelley Godwin (Bama) - 6-3, 6-2
5. Carolina Escamilla (UK) def. Andrea Brenes (Bama) - 6-1, 6-1
6. Jessica Guiggioli (UK) def. Natalie McElveen (Bama) - 6-1, 6-3
Order of finish: 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 6