Nov. 4, 2011
FLUSHING, N.Y. - Facing the top seed in the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships doubles main draw, Tennessee's Natalie Pluskota and Kata Szekely lost their first match together, 8-5, Friday morning at the USTA Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
Falling behind, 7-2, to 11th-ranked Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs of Stanford, the Lady Vol duo rallied to win the next three games before SU held serve to advance to the semifinals with an 8-5 win.
"Whenever you get into the second and third day of the tournament, there are always tougher matches," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. "It's unfortunate that they didn't come through in doubles, but Stanford is a very formidable team and really just attacked early. It took us a little bit of time to get into the match. Towards the end, they started playing better and really were a lot more competitive."
Pluskota also lost in the first round of the singles consolation draw, falling 6-1, 6-2 to the number one-ranked freshman in the country, Beatrice Capra (Duke). Capra, who was listed as a 5-8 seed in the main draw, was seeded first in the consolation after also losing Thursday.
"Beatrice Capra is a very tough, experienced player," Hahn-Patrick said. "She's someone who almost went pro, but decided to go to school. She has a wealth of experience in the pros and in juniors. She was one of the top juniors. Nat played aggressive, but the key points didn't execute."
The doubles loss comes after Pluskota and Szekely won their first seven career matches together, including a pair of victories Thursday to reach Friday's National Indoor quarterfinals. The tandem defeated Veronica Popovici and Simona Synkova of Wyoming, followed by a win against Florida's 12th-ranked duo of Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather.
Pluskota and Szekely were initially paired together for the Ohio Valley Regional, where they reeled off five straight wins to earn a trip to National Indoors.
The end of the Pluskota and Szekely's run in New York also signals the end of the individual fall portion of the 2011-12 schedule for each. Pluskota finishes her final fall at UT with an 8-5 singles and 9-4 doubles mark, while Szekely lost just twice in both singles (7-2) and doubles (9-2).
Pluskota leaves New York with 88 career doubles victories, tied with Manisha Malhotra (1994-98) for the 11th-most in UT history.
The rest of the team will travel to Sarasota, Fla., next weekend (Nov. 11-13) to compete in the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Claycourt Classic at the Athletic Center of Lakewood Ranch. It's the only clay court college tournament in the country.
Highly-touted freshman Caitlyn Williams is expected to make her Tennessee debut after recovering from a shoulder injury.
USTA/ITA NATIONAL INDOOR INTERCOLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIPS - Friday Results
DOUBLES MAIN DRAW QUARTERFINALS
# 11 Mallory Burdette/Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) def. Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (UT) 8-5
SINGLES CONSOLATION DRAW FIRST ROUND
Beatrice Capra (Duke) def. #29 Pluskota (UT) 6-1, 6-2