The Kentucky women’s tennis team (9-1 overall, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) split during the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play. After defeating No. 31 Florida for just the second time in program history on Friday, No. 29 South Carolina (6-4, 1-1 SEC) slid past the Cats, 5-2 Sunday afternoon in Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
Court one doubles housed the only two ranked pairs, No. 53 Carolina Escamilla and Caroline Lilley of Kentucky and South Carolina’s No. 45 Natasa Vuckovic and Ana Marija Zubori. The lead swapped three times in the Gamecocks’ favor. UK rallied back from 6-3 to 7-6, but USC finished the match, winning 8-6. Kentucky split doubles by taking an 8-4 decision on court three. Whitney Spencer and Lauren Meier paired up for the duo’s second win together.
South Carolina was up almost the entire match with a good lead at 5-3 until Megan Broderick and Christine Johnston used a full throttle effort to even it up at 6-6 and then 7-7. But with USC’s Gira Schofield and Dijana Stojic up a break, the Gamecocks took a 9-7 win.
The doubles portion of the match took place outside, but with 20-plus mph winds the Gamecocks got the best of Kentucky, jumping to a 1-0 lead.
After high winds, the match was moved indoors.
Johnston put the Wildcats on the board with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Stojic on court three. But the Gamecocks went up 2-1 after Vuckovic defeated Spencer on court four, 6-1, 6-3. The Garnet and Black closed out the match with victories on courts one and two.
The nation’s No. 33 singles player, Schofield, defeated Escamilla in a hard fought match, 6-4, 6-2. Shortly after, Kentucky’s No. 96 Broderick fell to No. 49 Zubori in a three-set duel. The Wildcat took the second set 6-4, but was unable to come back from a first set 6-2 loss followed by a 6-2 defeat in the third.
Finishing out the match were courts five and six. UK received a win after Meier convincingly won the first set 6-0 against Suzanna Mansour and then the Gamecock defaulted. The last one on the court for the Blue and White was Lilley. Although this time she wasn’t playing for the match, she was still playing for her team. The Portland, Ore., native was topped by Jocic, 6-4, 6-3.
The Wildcats continue conference play with two road matches at Arkansas and LSU Friday March 13 and Sunday March 15, respectively. Both match times are TBA. Live stats for both matches will be available at www.ukathletics.com, your source for all the latest Kentucky tennis news.
#14 Kentucky 2, #29 South Carolina 5
1. #33 Gira Schofield (USC) def. Carolina Escamilla (UK), 6-4, 6-2
2. #49 Ana Marija Zubori (USC) #96 Megan Broderick (UK), 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
3. Christine Johnston (UK) def. Dijana Stojic (USC), 6-2, 6-1
4. Natasa Vuckovic (USC) def. Whitney Spencer (UK), 6-1, 6-3
5. Miljana Jocic (USC) def. Caroline Lilley (UK), 6-4, 6-3
6. Lauren Meier (UK) def. Suzanna Mansour (USC), 6-0, def.
1. #45 Vuckovic/Zubori (USC) def. #53 Escamilla/Lilley (UK), 8-6
2. Schofield/Stojic (USC) def. Broderick/Johnston (UK), 9-7
3. Spencer/Meier (UK) def. Jocic/Miller (USC), 8-4
Order of finish:
Singles: 3, 4, 1, 2*, 6, 5
Doubles: 1, 3, 2