Feb. 6, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With the No. 22 University of Tennessee women's tennis team set to open the home portion of its schedule against No. 29 Virginia this Sunday, freshman Natalie Pluskota took a few minutes to sit down with UTLadyVols.com to answer some questions about the season to date. The Lady Volunteers will put their 3-1 record on the line at Noon on Sun., Feb. 8, against the Cavaliers in a rematch of last weekend's first round contest at the ITA National Indoor Qualifier in Coral Gables, Fla. UT emerged victorious in that match, 5-2, with Pluskota earning her first career victory over a ranked opponent, downing No. 82 Emily Fraser in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
A die-hard fan of the Lady Vols since the age of 9, Pluskota is in her first year at Rocky Top. Thus far this season, the Newnan, Ga., native has amassed a 12-8 singles record, including a 3-1 mark in dual-match play. In the team's first two dual matches of the year, Pluskota claimed the victory clinching singles point against both Illinois and Purdue. She has been stellar in doubles play as well, teaming up with sophomore Jennifer Meredith to put together a 12-1 record, including an active streak of 10 straight victories.
TEN QUESTIONS WITH Natalie Pluskota
As a lifelong Lady Vol fan, what has it meant to wear the Orange and White this season?
"It really means a lot to me. I have been a fan of UT since I was nine, and to finally get to wear the Orange and White and represent this University is incredible."
What will it mean to take part in your first home match at UT against Virginia this Sunday?
"Competing in the match on Sunday is a dream come true. I finally made it here, and can not wait to get on the court against Virginia."
What has been the most difficult adjustment from high school tennis to college tennis?
"The most difficult adjustment for me from high school to college tennis has been playing with intensity in every match and against everyone that I play."
"Mike and Sonia have helped me with this transition by staying on to me, and making sure that I play with intensity on every point. If I do not play with the intensity they want, they are not shy in letting me know...haha!"
How did it feel to clinch your team's first two victories?
"I just wanted to come through for my team and compete for them every point. Eventually coming out on top was an awesome feeling, knowing that I did not let them down."
What do you think has been the key to your success this season?
"I think that the key to my success this season is the constant hard work that the team and I have put in. We consistently push each other every day to become better, which has been crucial to my success this season."
How does it feel to be contributing for the Lady Vols as a freshman?
"It is an amazing feeling to be contributing to the Lady Vols. It is the main reason that I am here. I came to play and to compete and anything less would be unacceptable. I want to help my team win this year, so I will do whatever it takes."
What's the best advice you've ever received?
"The greatest piece of advice that I have ever received was when my coach asked me one day at practice..."Why be good at two things when you can be great at one?" At the time, I was dividing my time between two sports and it really hit home. I realized that if I were to focus completely on tennis, I had the potential to be great at it. I want to be a great tennis player one day, and, hopefully, after my career at UT is complete, I will be able to say this about myself."
Has your time at Tennessee lived up to your expectations so far?
"So far, my time at Tennessee has definitely lived up to my expectations!"
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
"Some of my goals for the rest of the season include playing for an SEC championship, beating Georgia, and beating Florida."
GETTING TO KNOW Natalie Pluskota
Nickname: Da Darlin, NatDog
Favorite place to eat in Knoxville: Wasabi
Favorite hangout spot on campus: The Thornton Center! Haha!
Favorite tennis racquet: Wilson 6.1
Favorite movie: "Cars"
Favorite vacation spot: Boca Raton, Fla.
Favorite class at UT: Nutrition for Athletes
Favorite Quote: "Experience tells you what to do, confidence allows you to do it."
What motivates you? Becoming faster, stronger and better.
What is one thing about yourself that most people don't know? I have a twin brother.
What would you do with a million dollars? My whole family discussed this very question one day and we promised each other that we would buy a different colored Corvette for each of us.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Teleportation