No. 4 singles player Joanna Henderson clinched a down-to-the-wire match for the No. 25 Lady Vols tennis team against No. 54 Indiana on Friday night.
Henderson gave UT the 4-3 victory by coming from behind for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Sophie Garre, much to the delight of the fans at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
"It was all very close and I was thinking about how much the match meant to everyone," said an excited Henderson, a sophomore from Aberdeen, Scotland. "I'm just happy I got the last point. I'm really, really happy but also relieved as well."
Co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said she never doubted Henderson would win, even after she trailed 3-4 in the final set.
"There are players on your team that when they have those last matches, you feel good about them, and Jo is one of those players," she said. "As long as she was sticking to her game plan, I knew she was going to pull out her match."
A hint of the drama that would unfold came at the start of the match when Indiana eked out the doubles point after the Hoosiers' No. 3 team of Alecia Kauss and Shannon Murdy beat Lady Vols Sarah Toti and Mimi Fotopoulos, 9-7, in the last doubles match.
However, Brynn Boren — who teamed with Kata Szekely to get the Lady Vols' lone doubles win (8-5) — quickly came back to tie the team match by winning the first seven games at No. 1 singles before Hoosier Leslie Hureau forfeited with injury.
UT's No. 2 player, Szekely, then beat Katie Klyczek, (6-2, 6-1) to put the Lady Vols ahead 2-1. But Indiana tied the match with a 6-0, 6-3 win by Murdy over Toti at No. 6 singles.
With the score tied, the drama of the final three singles matches increased. Indiana's Carolyn Chupa hung on to beat Fotopoulos at No. 5 (6-3, 6-4), before No. 3 Caitlyn Williams tied the match less than five minutes later with a come-from-behind victory over Kauss in a second-set tiebreaker — 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
As a result, all the focus turned to the final 10 minutes of the remaining match of the night between Henderson and Garre before Henderson won.
"I feel like this win was so important to us because we've really had a tough schedule, especially on the road," said Hahn-Patrick.
The Lady Vols return to action Sunday against Ohio State at 1 p.m.