April 14, 2013
AUBURN – No. 22 Auburn women’s tennis defeated No. 24 Tennessee 4-1 Sunday at the Yarbrough Tennis Center to close out the regular season and earn the program’s first victory over the Lady Vols in 20 years.
With the win, Auburn moves to 17-7 for the season and 7-6 in conference play. It marks the first time the Tigers have won 17 matches since 2008.
“I’m really proud of the girls. I think it was a great college tennis match,” head coach Lauren Longbotham Meisner said. “Tennessee is a good team, and we really had to dig in and fight to get every point. I think that we played some really good doubles, Tennessee’s known for their doubles, so we really had to dig down deep and put together some great plays in some tight situations. The freshmen stepped it up today. Pleun Burgmans played great, and for her to beat another top-25 player is phenomenal.”
Sunday’s victory was the first win by Auburn over the Lady Vols since 1994. With seven wins in conference play, the Tigers finish with a winning SEC record for the first time since 2002. Seven league victories are the most conference wins for Auburn since recording an 8-3 record in 1993.
“All in all, I was really proud from one to six,” Longbotham Meisner said. “It gives us the confidence we need going into SECs. I can’t believe how much we’ve improved in such a short period of time. The leadership and heart on this team is remarkable. I think it shows that if you fight for it, and believe in it, you can turn things around quicker than you think. I’m really proud and it feels really good for us to finish the regular season off with a winning record. We’re going to take this into SECs and NCAAs and be very confident.”
No. 24 Burgmans and fellow freshman Michala Kucharova clinched the win for the Tigers with singles wins that came nearly instantaneously. Burgmans made it 3-1 and earned her 20th win of the season with 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Tennessee’s 21st-ranked Brynn Boren at the top spot.
The win improved Burgmans to 20-6 overall and 7-4 against ranked opponents.
The win by the Dutch freshman was followed shortly by a match-clinching victory by Kucharova. The freshman from Slovakia dropped Caitlyn Williams in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, at the third line to give Auburn the win.
After the Tigers dropped one match in singles action, junior Jackie Kasler won 6-4, 6-0 over Tiffany Tavares on court five for a 2-1 lead.
“I was very proud of Michala. She really dug in,” Longbotham Meisner said. “She’s struggled throughout the season on and off, and she played some awesome tennis today. Jackie looked like the old Jackie. She looked like she was very much in her element and in her game. She had a great attitude and I was really proud of her.”
In doubles, the No. 10 team of Burgmans and senior Plamena Kurteva fell to the No. 4 tandem of Tennessee’s Boren and Kata Szekely at the top line, 8-5.
The Tigers battled back on court two, with sophomore Emily Flickinger and Kasler defeating Mimi Fotopoulos and Sarah Toti, 8-2. After falling behind 2-0, the Auburn tandem responded by winning eight consecutive games to earn the victory.
Clinching the doubles point and the 1-0 lead for the Tigers were sophomore Jen Pfeifler and senior Paulina Schippers. The duo earned an 8-6 win over Caitlyn Williams and Jesse Grace at the No. 3 position.
Auburn won the doubles point in 18-of-23 matches where doubles play was contested in the regular season, including eight doubles points in SEC play.
The Tigers finished as the seventh seed in the 2013 SEC Women's Tennis Championship and will face 10th seed Arkansas on Thursday, April 18 at 2 p.m. in Starkville, Miss.