STARKVILLE, Miss. – The LSU women’s tennis team (9-15; 1-12 SEC) defeated 11th-seeded Kentucky (13-12; 4-9 SEC) in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Wednesday at A.J Pitts Tennis Centre.
“Our girls showed some incredible heart today,” head coach Julia S. Sell said. “That isn’t easy after the season we’ve had. We’ve been overdue for a win, and we’ve lost a lot of close battles, so being able to pull through today is huge.”
The Lady Tigers came out strong against the Wildcats. Despite the duo of Mary Jeremiah and Ariel Morton falling 8-0 in the top spot to Kentucky’s 70th-ranked team of Nadia Ravita and Caitlin McGraw, the senior pair of Ebie Wilson and Keri Frankenberger held a commanding 6-0 lead on court two before snatching the match 8-1 over the Wildcats’ Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff and Stephanie Fox.
Kaitlin Burns and Ella Taylor carried LSU’s momentum onto court three as the tandem pulled out an 8-6 win over Kentucky’s Khristina Blacjkevitch and Jessica Stiles to clinch the doubles point.
No. 117 Burns notched the initial three games in the first set of singles play before facing a tied 5-5 score and ultimate 7-5 first-set loss to the Wildcats’ 22nd-ranked Ravita in the top spot. Ravita put Kentucky on the board after claiming the second set 6-3.
Freshman Taylor turned things around on court three with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph against the Wildcats’ Morin-Kougoucheff, putting LSU back in the lead.
“Ella (Taylor) controlled the momentum today and never let up,” Sell said.
Kentucky took first-set victories on courts two, five and six, but LSU rallied back on each court to steal the second sets and advance into the third set of competition.
Sophomore Jeremiah fell 6-0 in the first set, but retaliated to capture an 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory on court two over the Wildcats’ Stiles.
“I have to highlight Jeremiah for getting her first conference win of the season,” Sell said. “She was down 0-6, 0-3; but she battled back against a very good competitor.”
Junior Morton held a tightly-contested match throughout both sets against Kentucky’s McGraw, but ultimately fell 7-5, 7-6(7-3) on court four, giving the Wildcats’ their second and final point of the day.
With the pressure on courts five and six, Frankenberger held a 5-3 third-set advantage over Kentucky’s Blacjkevitch, while Wilson led 5-2 in the third set against the Wildcats’ Fox. Senior Frankenberger did not falter, as she notched the final game and clinched the match for LSU with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 score.
“Keri (Frankenberger) and Ebie (Wilson) did a great job fighting today and controlling their nerves, Sell said. “I’m really proud of this team.”
The Lady Tigers will next take on fifth-seeded Vanderbilt, the No. 18 team in the nation, in the second round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m. CT. The winner of Thursday’s match will proceed into the third round and face third-seeded Florida, ranked second nationally, Friday at 5 p.m. CT.
LSU holds a 14-22 overall record against the Commodores, as the Lady Tigers faced a 7-0 loss to Vanderbilt on March 1 at home.
For the latest information on the women's tennis team, follow the Lady Tigers on Twitter @lsuwten and @LSUJuliaSell and on www.Facebook.com/lsuwten.
#64 LSU 4, #42 Kentucky 2
1. #22 Nadia Ravita (UK) def. #117 Kaitlin Burns (LSU) 7-5, 6-3
2. Mary Jeremiah (LSU) def. Jessica Stiles (UK) 0-6, 6-3, 6-4
3. Ella Taylor (LSU) def. Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff (UK) 6-3, 6-2
4. Caitlin McGraw (UK) def. Ariel Morton (LSU) 7-5, 7-6 (7-3)
5. Keri Frankenberger (LSU) def. Khristina Blacjkevitch (UK) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
6. Stephanie Fox (UK) vs. Ebie Wilson (LSU) 6-1, 3-6, 2-5, unfinished
1. #70 Nadia Ravita/Caitlin McGraw (UK) def. Mary Jeremiah/Ariel Morton (LSU) 8-0
2. Ebie Wilson/Keri Frankenberger (LSU) def. Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff/Stephanie Fox (UK) 8-1
3. Kaitlin Burns/Ella Taylor (LSU) def. Khristina Blacjkevitch/Jessica Stiles (UK) 8-6
LSU 9-15, 1-12 SEC; National ranking #64
Kentucky 13-12, 4-9 SEC; National ranking #42
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (1,3,2,4,5)
2013 SEC Tournament
Wednesday, April 17
#12 Mississippi St. def. #13 Missouri 4-2
#14 LSU def. #11 Kentucky 4-2
Thursday, April 18
8 a.m. #8 South Carolina vs. #9 Ole Miss
11 a.m. #5 Tennessee vs. # 12 Mississippi St.
2 p.m. #10 Arkansas vs. #7 Auburn
5 p.m. #6 Vanderbilt vs. #14 LSU
Friday, April 19
8 a.m. #1 Georgia vs. Winner match 3
11 a.m. #4 Alabama vs. Winner match 4
2 p.m. #2 Texas A&M vs. Winner match 5
5 p.m. #3 Florida vs. Winner match 6
Saturday, April 20
10 a.m. Winner match 7 vs. Winner match 8
2 p.m. Winner match 9 vs. Winner match 10
Sunday, April 21
1 p.m. Championship Match