May 15, 2010

Courtesy of The University of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 14th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team advanced to the 10th Sweet 16 in program history with a 4-1 victory over No. 28 Vanderbilt in an NCAA Tournament second round matchup on Saturday.

"This was our goal at the beginning of the year and we worked all season for it," Tennessee co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "This team has a lot of character and a lot of heart. They know that it's `win or go home' and they just aren't ready to go home yet."

UT started fast, earning the doubles point with victories at the No. 1 and No. 3 spots.

Tennessee appeared well on its way to victory, taking the first set on five courts and holding leads in the second set of four matches, when play was moved indoors because of lightning.

Once inside, the Lady Vols racked up two victories in less than 30 minutes as Caitlin Whoriskey and Zsófia Zubor won their matches. A 3-0 lead made a Tennessee victory seem imminent.

Vanderbilt would make Tennessee work for over an hour, earning a win at No. 6 singles and forcing third sets in the other three matches.

Ultimately, it was Maria Sorbello who sewed up the victory for the Big Orange with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 win over No. 32 Jackie Wu of Vanderbilt.

Whoriskey admitted that she was nervous until the match was clinched.

"I think I aged about ten years during that," Whoriskey said. "It was nerve-wracking, but I knew that we were very mentally tough and we really wanted to go to Athens."

For Zubor, the victory was especially significant. She and Whoriskey are the lone seniors on this Lady Vol squad and neither had been past the second round.

"This is awesome," Zubor said. "During my career, I'd never made it to a Sweet 16 and neither had Caitlin. For us, this win is amazing. I can't even describe how happy we are, and we are ready to go."

Sorbello said that the win took on more importance when considering that UT was in this exact spot last season and fell to SEC rival South Carolina, 4-3 in an NCAA Second Round match at home.

"Last year was not a great finish to the year," Sorbello said. "We redeemed ourselves and it feels great."

Tennessee will face fourth overall seed Michigan, which defeated Ohio State, 4-0, this afternoon. The NCAA quarterfinal match will take place at 3 p.m. ET in Athens, Ga.

UT hasn't played the Wolverines in two seasons, but the Orange and White does hold a 9-3 advantage in the all-time series over UM.

A live blog of Thursday's match will be available at Fans are reminded to follow the Lady Vols on Twitter at