Alabama women's tennis hosts Roberta Allison Fall Classic

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama women's tennis team continues its fall schedule at home to host the 2010 Roberta Alison Fall Classic Friday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Sept. 26.

Play will begin at 9 a.m. CT each day, and all matches will be held at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. A total of nine teams, along with Alabama, will compete in this year's event including Baylor, Georgia State, Kentucky, Memphis, Mississippi State, Samford, Tulane, UAB, and the University of Tennessee at Martin.

"We're looking forward to hosting a first-class event this weekend," Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. "We have a solid field of teams participating this year. We've been working in the right direction and gaining a lot of quality matches. We need to focus on getting a little better with each match, running our patterns and playing on our terms on the big points."

The tournament's namesake, Roberta Alison, holds one of the most inspiring stories in tennis history. In 1963, the Southeastern Conference made an historic decision to allow women to compete on men's varsity teams. This was the first step toward opening the door for women's varsity athletics by the SEC member schools. Alabama's head coach at the time, Jason Morton, discovered Alison at a local Tuscaloosa country club, where she was training for the U.S. Women's Tennis Nationals. Alison, a native of Alexander City, Ala., traveled to Tuscaloosa for her training because it provided her with the closest source of a grass court, the surface that nationals would be played on.

Morton convinced Alison to join the Crimson Tide men's tennis team, making her the first woman to compete on a varsity men's team at Alabama. Some coaches were not as accepting of her addition to the team, so they would forfeit matches based on the claim that it was insulting for their players to have to play a woman. Alison would go on to become an SEC quarterfinalist. She played at the No. 4 singles position as a sophomore, while spending most of her time as a junior and senior at Nos. 1-2 in the lineup. Alison also claimed the prestigious Blue Gray championship four times and the Southern Tournament championship three times. She has been inducted into the Women's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in Williamsburg, Va. In 1988, she was one of three inaugural inductees into the University of Alabama Tennis Hall of Fame.

Four Crimson Tide players were in action last weekend at the Duke Fab Four Invite in Cary, N.C. Each player competed in singles and doubles in the event. Freshman Mary Anne Macfarlane posted solid results on the weekend, bouncing back from dropping her opening singles match in the Section B draw to win three straight and claim the consolation bracket. She also teamed up with sophomore Antonia Foehse in doubles, with the duo advancing to the Section B championship match. Foehse picked up the biggest singles win of the tournament for Alabama, knocking off No. 78 Connor Vogel of Mississippi 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Senior Meritt Emery and redshirt junior Tiffany Welcher also took part in the tournament last weekend. Although both struggled at times in singles action, each ended the tournament with a win. They also teamed up to compete in the Section A doubles draw, dropping a pair of matches before winning their final one.

All four players will be in action this weekend, along with junior Taylor Lindsey and freshman Alex Clay.

Friday will feature two rounds of doubles and one round of singles. The doubles draws will wrap up on Saturday, with one more round of singles being played that day as well. The final round of singles will be played on Sunday. Admission to the tournament is free. Also, concessions with be offered throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics