Duringthe 4-3 win over Indiana Friday and the 6-1 victory over Ohio State on Sunday, several members of the No. 24 Tennessee Lady Vols' tennis team had some challenging and long singles matches.
No. 2 Lady Vol player Kata Szekely was not one of them, however. In fact, she hardly had a full workout either day.
On Sunday at Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center, the senior from Hungary beat Kara Cecil, 6-3, 6-2, and on Friday she enjoyed an even easier time with a 6-2, 6-1 win.
"I was really happy with the way I played all weekend," she said. "They were tough opponents but I think I came ready. I worked really hard in the last week especially."
For the Lady Vols as a whole, the victory Sunday over the Buckeyes came much easier than did the win over Indiana Friday, despite the comparable rankings of the two Big 10 schools.
Co-head coach Mike Patrick thinks the reason may have been that his team had a two-week layoff before playing the Hoosiers, but only two days before facing Ohio State.
"We did play better today," he said. "We played with a lot more confidence. We played a little tentatively on Friday."
The match Sunday pointed in Tennessee's direction from the start. After the Lady Vols were able to get the doubles point with victories from Brynn Boren/Szekely (8-2) and from Sarah Toti/Mimi Fotopoulos (8-2), Szekely's win in singles quickly made the team score 2-0.
A few minutes later, freshmen teammates Tiffany Taveres (7-5, 6-2) and Mimi Fotopoulos (6-3, 6-0) earned the deciding points for UT almost simultaneously at Nos. 6 and 5.
The match was over as far as determining the team winner, but the entertaining tennis was actually just beginning.
Caitlyn Williams of Knoxville had a tight 6-3, 7-5 win over Gabby Steele at No. 3 singles, and then the final two matches went to tiebreakers.
No. 4 player Joanna Henderson won over Fidan Manashirova, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8), before No. 1 Lady Vol Boren lost to Kelsey Dieters — 4-6, 6-2, 0-1 (10-12) — in a match that was decided by a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of a third set.
While Tennessee (2-4) still has its challenging SEC schedule ahead of it beginning with a March 2 home match against Georgia, Szekely still took a few moments Sunday to enjoy where her game is.
"I'm very happy the way I'm playing right now," she said. "In a lot of ways I can improve and still play better, but so far I'm really happy."
John Shearer is a freelance contributor.