Sophomore Brynn Boren and the Tennessee women's tennis team got just what they needed Friday afternoon — a confidence builder.
Boren broke a four-match losing streak as the No. 19-ranked Lady Vols beat No. 58 University of California-Davis 5-0 in the opening round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
UT (1-2) was coming off losses to No. 9 Virginia and No. 4 North Carolina last weekend in New York City.
Boren, who went 0-2 in those matches, defeated UC-Davis sophomore Kelly Chui 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.
"It was good," said Boren. "I had a plan, and I executed it well today. It's just going to boost my confidence, which is what I need right now."
UT plays No. 22 Tulsa today at 2 in the Kick-Off Weekend final for a berth in the 16-team ITA National Indoors on Feb. 10-13 in Charlottesville, Va.
Tulsa defeated No. 33 North Carolina State 4-1 in Friday's first match, which lasted more than four hours. The Lady Vols were on the courts about half that long.
"We came out and played really well in the doubles," UT co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "We're an indoor team, and they're not, from Cal-Davis, so we kind of took it to them a little bit, but they've got a good bunch, and it's good for us to get a match like that under our belt and be able to finish in a couple of hours instead of being out here all day."
In the losses last weekend, the Lady Vols had only five players available for singles and were forced to forfeit the No. 6 singles matches.
UT was back with a full lineup against UC-Davis (1-2) with the return of No. 1 singles player Natalie Pluskota, who was limited to only doubles last weekend due to injury. Pluskota is ranked No. 24 in singles, three spots ahead of Boren.
The Lady Vols also had an extra player available for the UC-Davis match as January enrollee Jesse Grace was eligible. Grace, a freshman from South Africa, was awaiting paperwork and not eligible for the matches in New York City.
"We had a couple of tough losses last week, but we played good teams with not a full lineup," Patrick said. "It makes a big difference when you've got six people out here, for sure."
UT won the doubles point with victories by Pluskota and freshman Caitlyn Williams at No. 1 and Boren and freshman Sarah Toti at No. 2.
Boren's singles victory put the Lady Vols up 2-0. Pluskota, the Lady Vols' only senior, posted a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Dahra Zamudio at No. 1 for a 3-0 lead.
Joanna Henderson, a freshman from Scotland, clinched the match with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Ellie Edles at No. 6.
Toti, of Las Vegas, got the Lady Vols' final point by beating Nicole Koehly 6-0, 6-3 at No. 5. She was on match point — and won it — when Henderson's match ended, and thus her victory counted in the team score.
Williams (No. 4 singles) and Kata Szekely (No. 2 singles) both won their first sets and were leading in the second when the match ended. Williams is from Knoxville.
"We came out there and had our goals and knew what we wanted to do," Boren said. "We executed perfectly, so it was great."