Tennessee women’s tennis player Tiffany Tavares admittedly does not fit the stereotype of someone from Las Vegas.
“I don’t go out,” joked the freshman, who followed sophomore teammate and longtime friend Sarah Toti to Knoxville. “I don’t enjoy going out. I like to just chill at home and watch movies. I’m not crazy at all.”
Friday against Mississippi State (5-5, 0-3 SEC) at Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center, however, she gave a Las Vegas-like, show-stopping performance in easily defeating Rosaline Dion, 6-1, 6-1.
The win gave Tennessee (3-5, 1-1) its first singles point and helped propel the Lady Vols to a 7-0 sweep.
“It felt great to give the rest of my team a 2-0 lead and take the pressure off them so they could really swing away,” the No. 6 player said.
Her match actually lasted less than 45 minutes. That short amount of time might have had fans calling for an encore in her hometown, but she was pleased to put the match away so quickly.
“When I’m loose, I go after the ball,” she said. “It went my way and I kept it short.”
After Tennessee swept doubles and Tavares won, it quickly became apparent that the Vols were on their way to a team victory over Mississippi State. Fellow freshman Mimi Fotopoulos won 6-1, 6-3 over Lien Van Geel at No. 5 a short time later, and then sophomore Joanna Henderson clinched for Tennessee at No. 4 over Petra Ferancova (6-0, 6-2).
No. 2 player Kata Szekely, who won the first set, 6-4, came back from a 2-6 second-set loss to win the 10-point tiebreaker, 10-4.
Sophomore Catilyn Williams, the No. 3 singles player, rallied to win the second-set tiebreaker, 8-6, for a 6-2, 7-6 victory over Naomi Tran.
Brynn Boren — lost a second-set tiebreaker against Georgiana Patrasc at No. 1 singles. However, the junior came back for an 11-9 win in the tiebreaker that mattered the most — the 10-point one held in lieu of a third set.
“They went our way and they weren’t making it easy on us,” said Lady Vols co-head coach Mike Patrick. “We had to fight hard. I’m proud of the girls’ efforts.”
John Shearer is a freelance contributor.