March 25, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 71 women's tennis team (7-7, 0-4 SEC) gets back into Southeastern Conference action this weekend, hosting No. 29 Vanderbilt (7-6, 2-2 SEC) on Friday, March 26 at 3:00 p.m. (CST) at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium before heading to Lexington, Ky., to take on Kentucky (2-12, 0-4 SEC) at noon (CST) on Sunday, March 28.
Last weekend, the Crimson Tide snapped a four match losing streak by defeating then-No. 67 Tulane 4-0 on Sunday. The match was moved to the Pat M. Courington Tennis Pavilion on the campus of Samford University due to weather. Alabama was able to hold off the Green Wave in doubles thanks to an 8-4 win on court three by junior Meritt Emery and senior Alice Tunaru. In singles play, sophomore Courtney McLane put the Tide ahead 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-2 win at the No. 2 spot. Alabama clinched the match thanks to a pair of three set wins by Emery at the No. 3 position and freshman Alexa Guarachi, ranked No. 39 nationally in singles, on court one.
Vanderbilt comes into the weekend on a three match losing streak, but all three losses have come against top-15 foes. The latest loss came in Atlanta on Tuesday against No. 13 Georgia Tech, as the Commodores fell to the Yellow Jackets 4-3. All of the six losses Vanderbilt has suffered this season have come to teams currently ranked inside the top 30. The Commodores have faced a rigorous schedule all season, with only one match coming against an unranked opponent. Vanderbilt has three players in the national singles rankings, led by sophomore Jackie Wu, who is ranked No. 24. Senior Catherine Newman checks in at No. 38 in the latest poll, while sophomore Chelsea Preeg is ranked No. 76. Preeg and Wu have also been very successful this season as a doubles pair, currently ranked No. 27 nationally. The sophomore tandem of Heather Steinbauer and Erica Robertson is ranked 30th in the nation. The Tide trails 19-14 in the all-time series with the Commodores.
Kentucky enters the weekend having split a home doubleheader on Tuesday. The Wildcats knocked off Eastern Kentucky 5-2 before falling to No. 69 East Tennessee State 4-3. The win over Eastern Kentucky broke a losing streak that spanned nine matches for Kentucky, with the only other win coming over Alabama 4-3 in Atlanta during ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Wildcats have faced a strenuous schedule this season that has included just five home matches. Junior Megan Broderick is the only Wildcat player ranked nationally in singles, currently sitting at No. 123. Kentucky has no nationally ranked doubles pairs. Alabama has struggled over the years against the Wildcats, with the all-time series in favor of Kentucky 25-8.
Next up, the Tide continues conference play with two road matches next weekend. Alabama will travel to take on LSU on Friday, April 2 at 3:00 p.m. (CST) and Arkansas on Sunday, April 4 at noon (CST).