After dominating the first two legs of their three-match stint away from Lexington, the No. 31 UK women’s tennis team looked to remain perfect on the road as their toughest task of the season, the No. 11 Vanderbilt Commodores, awaited them.
Standing at 11-2 (3-2 SEC), the ‘Dores cruised through their non-conference slate, picking up a road win over No. 9 Georgia Tech along the way. They’ve been tested in SEC play, with losses against top-25 opponents LSU and Arkansas, both of whom were No. 23 at the time.
The Wildcats, also at 11-2 (3-2 SEC), have found similar success and are currently on a two-match winning streak. On of those wins came against the same Razorback team that beat Vandy.
Kentucky has been excellent in doubles this season, winning 12 of 13 doubles points. The Commodores have only dropped three doubles points themselves this spring, but subsequently won all three of those matches. That proved to be something the Cats would need to change if they were to come out on top.
Vanderbilt got out on the front foot on court three, where Christina Rosca and Anessa Lee swiftly defeated Lesedi Jacobs and Anastasia Tkachenko 6-0. UK responded on court two, as Carla Girbau and Elizabeth Stevens turned a two-match losing streak into a two-match winning streak after beating Emma Kurtz and Marcella Cruz 6-2, leaving a monumental doubles point down to court one.
Akvilė Paražinskaitė and Fiona Arrese have been untouchable all year, and the pair upheld its standard once again on court one, defeating Anna Ross and Holly Staff 6-4. The win improved their doubles record to 11-0 and gave Kentucky a crucial 1-0 lead heading into singles action.
Vandy quickly evened things on court six, where Amanda Meyer defeated Tkachenko 6-2, 6-2. The Cats would come right back, however. Paražinskaitė claimed yet another ranked win on court one, defeating No. 20 Rosca 6-2, 7-5. Her singles record is a stellar 13-1.
Jacobs then rebounded from her doubles loss, besting Staff 6-4, 6-4 on court three to put the Wildcats up 3-1 and a single win away from toppling another ranked foe.
Unsurprisingly, the Commodores had no intentions of going down without a fight. All three of the remaining singles matches went the distance.
Vandy made it 3-2 on court five after Cruz fought past Stevens 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, snapping Stevens’ two-match win streak. The Commodores then tid it on court two, where Kurtz, after dropping the first set to Carlota Molina, beat her 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, bringing the entire match down to court four.
Lee took the first set against Girbau 6-3; the junior from Barcelona, Spain rebounded with a 6-3 set of her own in the second. The winner of set three would not only clinch the final available point, but the entire match.
After 10 hard-fought games, the Vandy freshman prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, swiping the 4-3 win from the Wildcats’ grasp.
The now 11-3 (3-3 SEC) Wildcats have little time to let this sour loss sting. They return to the Boone Complex next Thursday to host the Texas A&M Aggies in what was a previously postponed match. Start time is set at 11:00 a.m. E.T.