The 23rd-ranked Alabama women's tennis (14-5, 7-3 SEC) team won its seventh-consecutive match as it topped No. 16 Tennessee (16-6, 8-2 SEC) 5-2 on Tuesday at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title for the first time since 2006 and took down the Lady Volunteer for the first time since 2005.
"Winning the SEC West was one of our goals heading into this season," Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. "This league is so tough that anytime you have a chance to win a title, and win it the way we did today, it is very promising. This win really meant a lot."
Alabama began the afternoon with a 1-0 lead as freshman Alex Clay already finished her singles match on court four when the teams first met. In a matter of moments, the Tide found itself up 3-0 as 33rd-ranked Mary Anne Macfarlane topped No. 32 junior Natalie Pluskota on court one, 6-2, 6-3, followed by a win on court six by junior Taylor Lindsey as she downed freshman Whitney Wofford, 7-5, 6-1.
"To win those two singles points quickly gave us such a boost," Mainz added. "We talked about playing one point at a time. I have no doubt that those two wins gave the rest of the team a lot of momentum to finish the match."
The next point would take quite some time, and would go in the Lady Vols' favor, with freshman Millie Nichols posting a 6-4, 7-5 win over sophomore Antonia Foehse at No. 5. Junior Courtney McLane provided the clinching win for Alabama as she collected the fourth point for the Tide with a 7-6(8), 6-4 victory on court three versus sophomore Kata Szekely. McLane, down 3-1 in the second set, battled back to win four-straight games. Szekely avoided the first match-point opportunity, but could not fight off another, giving Alabama the win.
The battle on court two would last well over an hour longer as sophomore Alexa Guarachi, ranked 89th, and senior Rosalia Alda, No. 113, went back and forth throughout the entire contest. The second set would play out in a tiebreaker where Guarachi took the early 3-0 lead. Alda came back to extend the breaker, but Guarachi held strong to win the set 7-6(8). The third was no different as the two played game-for-game, but it would be Guarachi winning the final two games for the 7-5 victory.
Tennessee got the first win in doubles as its duo of senior Maria Sorbello and Alda posted an 8-3 win over Clay and Lindsey. The Lady Vols would take the point with a win on three where senior Jennifer Meredith and Szekely earned a late break to win 8-5 over 80th-ranked Foehse and Macfarlane. The loss was the first for the Tide's No. 3 team all season. The matchup on court one went down to the wire, but a break by Tennessee's 44th-ranked pair of Pluskota and Nichols to go up 6-5 gave the Lady Vols the slight edge to take the match 8-5 over 10th-ranked Guarachi and McLane.
Next up, Alabama will play its final match of the regular season when it hosts Auburn on Saturday, April 16. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT.
1. No. 44 Pluskota/Nichols (UT) def. No. 10 Guarachi/McLane (UA) 8-5
2. Alda/Sorbello (UT) def. Clay/Lindsey (UA) 8-3
3. Szekely/Meredith (UT) def. No. 80 Foehse/Macfarlane (UA) 8-5
Order of Finish: 2,3,1
1. No. 33 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA) def. No. 32 Natalie Pluskota (UT) 6-2, 6-3
2. No. 89 Alexa Guarachi (UA) def. No. 113 Rosalia Alda (UT) 4-6, 7-6(8), 7-5
3. Courtney McLane (UA) def. Kata Szekely (UT) 7-6(8), 6-4
4. Alex Clay (UA) def. Maria Sorbello (UT) 6-3, 6-1
5. Millie Nichols (UT) def. Antonia Foehse (UA) 6-4, 7-5
6. Taylor Lindsey (UA) def. Whitney Wofford (UT) 7-5, 6-1
Order of Finish: 4,1,6,5,3*,2