Tennessee Women's Sports Notes from Weekend

The University of Tennesee was represented very well this past weekened in sports action, despite a tough loss by the basketball team.

Lady swimmers make NCAA field

Tennessee freshmen Noelle Bassi (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) and Jacque Fessel (Cincinnati, Ohio) have earned trips to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

Fessel had already clinched a spot at NCAAs because of her automatic-qualifying time in the 100y back. But Bassi, having a provisional-qualifying time in the 200y fly, did not have a guaranteed spot until the bids were announced.

In addition to the 100y back, Fessel will also compete in the 200y back at NCAAs, after placing sixth in both events at the SEC Championships. Fessel, who set a school record in the 100y back with her time of 54.73 at SECs, enters the meet with the NCAA's 22nd-fastest time in that event. In the 200y back, Fessel's best time of 1:57.71 is the 12th-best in the NCAA this season.

Bassi, meanwhile, heads to the Championships as the 23rd-quickest 200y flyer in the NCAA. Her best time of 1:59.28 came in a dual meet against South Carolina in Columbia.

While swimmers qualify for NCAAs based on their times throughout the season, divers must win their way there at zone qualifying meets. The UT divers will attempt to do so at the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships this Friday through Sunday at Auburn, Ala.

The NCAA Championships will take place from March 20-22 at the Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.

Trotter posts PR in 200 meters

Lady Vol Dee Dee Trotter improved her NCAA Championship hopes with a lifetime best in the 200-meter dash, and teammate Toyin Olupona posted a season-best time in the 60 meters Saturday at the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

Trotter, a sophomore from Decatur, Ga., rolled to a career-topping pace of 23.59 and finished second to Miami's Lauryn Williams (23.53). More importantly, Trotter may have earned her second-straight trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held March 14-15 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. She must wait until Monday night to receive official confirmation.

The reading was an improvement over Trotter's previous 2003 superlative of 23.82, which she produced on Feb. 15 at the Armory Collegiate Invitational. It moved her from 20th on the NCAA qualifying list to No. 13. The time is the ninth-fastest ever by a Lady Vol in that event and is an improvement over Trotter's old PR of 23.78, which came Feb. 23, 2002, at the SEC Indoor Championships.

As for Olupona, the Orillia, Canada, native clicked off a 7.44 count in the prelims and then put a season-best 7.38 on the board in the finals to also take second behind the Hurricanes' Williams (7.29). The time was Olupona's fastest at that distance as a Lady Vol, but it did not improve her 20th-place national ranking which results from a 55m dash time that converts to a 7.37 in the 60. So, she will dwell on the NCAA's so-called bubble until she receives word Monday night.

For the sophomore, the 7.38 puts her third on the UT all-time performers list in the 60m behind only Kelli White (7.24) and Heather Sumpter (7.37). It also ranks as the 11th-fastest 60 ever run by a Tennessee woman. For UT Head Coach J.J. Clark and his NCAA hopefuls, Monday's day of waiting will be nail-biting time.

''The mark Dee Dee ran should get her into the NCAA Championships,'' Clark said. ''I am very pleased to see her record a personal best and put herself into position to earn a second-straight trip to the national meet. She's been training very hard, and the hard work is paying off.

''Toyin has been very consistent, and hopefully her mark will hold up, too. She definitely has gone to a new level in her performance this season, and I hope she will be rewarded with a trip to NCAAs.''

If both advance, they will join fellow sophomore Nicole Cook, who automatically qualified in the 800 meters with a 2:06.11 reading in the prelims of the SEC Championships. The Petersburg, Va., product placed ninth at last year's indoor national meet and picked up All-America honors.

Senior pole vaulter Christie Elwin also appears to be in contention for a trip, having cleared a school-record and personal-best height of 13-2.25/4.02m at last weekend's SEC meet. The Adelaide, Australia, native ranks 15th on the NCAA's most recent qualifying list.

Lady netters blast Auburn

The 11th-ranked University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer tennis squad finished up a successful weekend in Alabama on Sunday by drilling No. 40 Auburn, 6-1 at the Luther King Tennis Complex.

Vilmarie Castellvi, the NCAA's third-ranked player, trounced Auburn's Carolina Ramirez 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. Ramirez is ranked 93rd nationally. Castellvi now stands 28-4 on the year, including 25-3 vs. ranked opponents.

Auburn's Petra Bercik nipped UT's Melissa Schaub 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2 but UT swept the remaining matches to win going away.

Crystal Cleveland (UT) beat Isabel Rosenbrock 6-0, 6-4 at No. 3, Sabita Maharaj defeated Liz Sauerborn 6-2, 7-6(2) at No. 4, Ashley Robards beat Sarah Suiter 6-4, 6-1 at No. 5 and Majen Immink edged Ashley Cowart 4-6, 7-6 (10-5) at No. 6.

The win upped UT's record to 11-3 on the year and 3-1 in league action, while the Tigers dropped to 8-4 and 1-3 in the SEC.

''This was a good weekend for us,'' said UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick. ''We played well and accomplished what we set out to do here. I'm looking forward to our next matches over spring break with LSU and Arkansas.''

The Lady Vols got things started by winning the doubles point for the 12th time in 14 matches this year. The 17th-rated combo of Castellvi and Schaub improved to 18-4 on the season when they made short work of the nation's No. 40 mix of Bercik and Ramirez at No. 1 doubles, 8-3. Moments later, Cleveland and Maharaj posted an 8-2 decision over Rosenbrock and Suiter at the No. 3 slot, giving UT a 1-0 lead.

The singles action was delayed for some time due to an intense matchup at the second doubles position between UT junior Tammy Encina and Immink vs. Auburn's Cowart and Sauerborn. Encina and Immink entered the contest undefeated on the year at 6-0 and found their perfect record in jeopardy as the match went into a tiebreaker. The tandem, however, prevailed in fine fashion, blanking Cowart and Sauerborn in the extra frame, 7-0.

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