March 26, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The 17th-ranked women's tennis team (13-1, 3-1 SEC) steps back into SEC play this weekend, hosting the 19th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats (10-4, 1-3 SEC) on Friday, March 27 before traveling to Nashville to take on the 26th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (5-5, 1-2 SEC) on Sunday, March 29. The match against Kentucky is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. (CST) and will be held at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium, while the match at Vanderbilt is scheduled for Noon (CST) and will be held at the Currey Tennis Center.
"This is a considerable weekend for the Tide as we face off with our first two SEC Eastern opponents," said head coach Jenny Mainz. "Kentucky and Vanderbilt both are proven teams with noteworthy results."
Following Alabama's sweep of then No. 46 Mississippi State on March 15, the Crimson Tide had a week off. Alabama returned to action Monday, March 23 with a 5-2 victory over the then 65th-ranked Oregon Ducks, giving the Tide six wins over ranked opponents this season. The match with the Ducks was also the last non-conference match of the season for Alabama, finishing the year a perfect 10-0 in those matches. The victory also gave the Tide thirteen wins on the season, the most wins an Alabama team has had since the 2004 season. Freshman Taylor Lindsey remains undefeated this season in dual matches, running her record to 13-0 with a dramatic three set victory on Monday. The Tide did drop one spot in this week's rankings, dropping from No. 16 to No. 17, but is still one of five SEC teams ranked inside the top 20.
Alabama has had very little success against Kentucky over the years, as the Wildcats hold a 23-8 advantage in the all-time series. The Tide did defeat the Wildcats in 2006 in Lexington, but that is the only time this decade Alabama has been able to collect a win against Kentucky. The Wildcats got off to a program best 9-0 start this season, but the wins have been tougher to come by lately. Kentucky was on a four match losing streak before picking up a 5-2 road victory over South Florida last Saturday. The Wildcats own a 2-3 record in road matches this season, with all three losses coming to ranked teams. Kentucky sophomore Megan Broderick is the only Wildcat player ranked nationally in singles, coming in at No. 117 in the latest poll. Kentucky also has one doubles pair ranked nationally, with senior Carolina Escamilla and freshman Carolina Lilley ranked 29th.
Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Alabama by a slim 18-14 margin, but the Commodores have not suffered a defeat at the hands of the Tide since 1993. Although Vanderbilt's record is not impressive, the Commodores have only played one match against an unranked opponent on the season. Vanderbilt owns four victories over teams currently ranked inside the top 50, and has not lost to a team currently ranked outside the top 25. Junior Catherine Newman comes into the weekend as the highest ranked Commodore, currently ranked No. 61. Freshman Jackie Wu has also earned a ranking inside the top 70, checking in at No. 64 in the latest poll. Sophomore Keilly Ulery gives Vanderbilt three nationally ranked singles players by earning a current ranking of No. 112.
"We need to be prepared to bring our best tennis and turn it on this weekend," added Mainz. "This year there is so much parity in our league. We must be willing to show up and battle every match."
Admission to all Alabama home tennis matches is free. In addition, live scoring will be available for both matches this weekend. Scoring for the Kentucky match can be found on Rolltide.com under the "MORE IN TENNIS" section of the women's tennis homepage and can also be accessed directly by clicking here. To access scoring for the Vanderbilt match please click here.