Senior Crystal Cleveland of the 11th-rated Lady Vol tennis team snagged SEC Player of the Week distinction on Wednesday.
''Crystal had a great week,'' said UT Co-Head Coach Mike Patrick. ''She has embraced the challenge of playing at a higher position with open arms, and Iâm proud of everything sheâs done in her career.''
Cleveland, who owns a No. 56 national ranking in singles, posted a 2-0 record in singles and doubles last weekend in helping lead the Lady Vols to a pair of SEC conquests over Alabama and Auburn. Against the Crimson Tide, she teamed with freshman Sabita Maharaj at three doubles and posted an 8-6 victory over Nathalie Koppelle and Marie-France Lord-Andrade. The Delray Beach, Fla., native then took out Lord-Andrade at four singles in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.
The Tigers did not fair much better against Cleveland, as she and Maharaj notched their third consecutive win at the No. 3 doubles slot by upending Isabel Rosenbrock and Sarah Suitor, 8-3, to secure the doubles point for the Big Orange. The senior then picked up her first career victory at No. 3 singles by trouncing the No. 108-ranked Rosenbrock, 6-0, 6-4. The win was her 11th in a row, establishing a new team-high for the 2003 campaign.
The victories versus Alabama gave Cleveland her fourth-straight 20-win season in singles and doubles. Cleveland also has one 30-30 year, which occurred her sophomore season with records of 33-10 and 36-8 in singles and doubles. Last year, she fell one singles victory shy of a second 30-30 season. Her 2003 record in singles stands at 21-7 and 12-2 in dual matches. In doubles, Cleveland is a remarkable 21-3 and also 12-2 in duals. She is 4-0 in both categories in SEC action as well.
Cleveland also excels in the classroom either, having been named Academic All-SEC the past two seasons. An early childhood development major, Cleveland has also earned a place on the Lady Vol Honor Roll three straight years.
Softballers sweep ETSU 8-0, 8-3
Down 3-0 in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader at Tyson Park, the Lady Vol softball team struck for eight sixth-inning runs to notch an 8-3 victory and sweep.
Stacey Jennings pitched a five-inning one-hitter with seven strikeouts as UT won the opener 8-0. Angela Brewer homered for the Lady Vols, while Kristi Durant cracked a two-run double.
The come-from-behind triumph in Game 2 enabled Tennessee to extend its home winning streak to 10 games dating back to last season and its overall record to 21-8. ETSU dropped to 7-8.
''We dug ourselves a big hole by not being ready to play the second game after winning the opener by a large margin,'' said Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly. ''Our team needs to learn to play their best selves and not play to the scoreboard or to the level of our opponent. ETSU put a lot of pressure on us during the second game and we had our backs to the wall. We needed to see how these kids would respond to a situation like that and I'm pleased they were able to fight through the adversity.''
Amber Rhinehart was hit by a pitch to open the bottom portion of the sixth and a throwing error on freshman Stacey Jennings' (Aurora, Colo.) ground ball allowed freshman pinch runner Kristen Hays (Phoenix, Ariz.) to reach third. Although Jennings was tagged out by the ETSU shortstop on junior Angela Brewer's (East Ridge, Tenn.) fielder's choice, Hays scored when a relay throw over to first went awry. Senior Blaine Teasley (Tucson, Ariz.) roped a double to straightaway center field to plate freshman pinch runner Kim Anders (Erwin, Tenn.) to narrow the gap to 3-2. Ellisha Humphrey then lined a single into center to score Teasley with the tying run but the outfielder slipped and fell, allowing Humphrey to race all the way to third on the mishap. After freshman Jolene Holthaus relieved McChain, Mandie Fishback and Sarah Fekete walked to fill the bases.
The next Lady Vol batter, Katherine Card (Soddy Daisy) worked the count to 2-0 before Buccaneer Head Coach Amy Fuller elected to re-enter McChain. Card would take the next two pitches to earn a walk to move UT in front, 4-3, as Humphrey came across. Durant then unleashed a two-run single into right center field to bring in Fishback and Fekete and prompt another ETSU pitching change. Junior Jennifer Fraser retired Rhinehart on a grounder, moving Card to third and freshman pinch runner Jessica Wilson (Brentwood, Tenn.) to second with two down. Moments later, Jennings ballooned the hosts' lead to 8-3 when she smacked a liner into left to drive home her teammates.
Lady Vol reliever Christy Anch allowed just one hit and an unearned run over 3.2 innings to raise her season ledger to 4-1. Starter Stephanie Humphrey yielded two hits and two runs over 3.1 innings and became the first Lady Vol pitcher to record 500 strikeouts in her career when she fanned freshman Janine Sprague in the top of the first. Both Ellisha Humphrey and Teasley were 2-for-3 for the Orange, with five other players contributing at least one hit.
UT will resume SEC action when No. 18 Alabama (18-9/3-0 SEC) arrives for a three-game set this weekend. The teams will have a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday and then have a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m.