Lady netters 10th in final poll

The final release of the Omni Hotels Intercollegiate Tennis Rankings of 2003 on May 30 revealed that the University of Tennessee finished the campaign ranked No. 10 in the nation. It was only the second time in the history of the program that the Lady Vols finished among the Top 10. The first occurred in 2001 when UT ended with a No. 6 billing.

''We're excited about it,'' said UT Co-Head Coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick. ''We had some ups and downs during the year, and we learned from the downs and were pleased with the ups. On paper, itâs always nice to finish in the Top 10. Looking at the schools ahead of us, we beat some of them and lost by only a single point to some of the others, which is very satisfying. It shows we were able to compete with anyone in the country.''

Tennessee finished with a 22-7 record and a 9-2 showing in the SEC. Interestingly, all seven of its losses came by 4-3 counts, two of which were to National Champion Florida. UT's second-place finish in the league tied for its best performance in school history. The Lady Vols equaled the feat in 1981 and 2001.

A total of six Big Orange netters were also ranked as individuals, with three coming in singles and four doubles tandems making the list. Topping the group was senior Vilmarie Castellvi, who finished as the nation's No. 1-rated singles competitor. She also finished at No. 6 in doubles with freshman Melissa Schaub. Castellvi's classmate, Crystal Cleveland, appeared in the rankings three times, coming in at 53rd in singles and 54th and 58th in doubles with sophomore Ashley Robards and freshman Sabita Maharaj. Junior Tammy Encina ended with a No. 41 ranking in singles and was 33rd in doubles with sophomore Majen Immink.

''It shows that our team really worked hard,'' Hahn-Patrick said. ''We had a really talented team, depth wise, which helped tremendously. Overall, we were a young team this year and we'll be even younger next season, so this gives us some momentum for next fall. It's a great accomplishment.''

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