Feb. 28, 2012
Throughout her final season at Tennessee, senior Natalie Pluskota will provide her account of the 2012 Lady Vol tennis team's experiences on and off the court. In this edition, Pluskota talked about the team's adventure to Orlando, where the Lady Vols knocked off UCF, 7-0, and took a trip to Disney World.
Everyone was pretty excited about our trip down to UCF. Not only was the weather great, but it was going to be our first outdoor match this year. This time of year is always a little bit tricky, as we are transitioning from indoor to outdoor play. Often our week of preparation is tricky due to some days being inside and some outside. Prior to leaving, I informed some of the girls my expectations for the weekend. These expectations included the following; win, get a tan, and find a minion!
We woke up the next morning, and it was the one and only Joanna Henderson's birthday! She is no longer is a baby, as she turned a whopping eighteen years old! We started with a team breakfast, and then headed to the courts for our match at noon. The girls had a great warm-up and we were ready to go as match time came. Due to my injury, I have been given the opportunity to view things from a different perspective, which will ultimately help prepare me for what I want to do in the future (coaching). I love being on the court with the girls, as I want to be a positive and upbeat energy for them, which they hopefully can feed off of.
We ended up winning the doubles point, and moved into singles with some momentum. The girls adjusted rather well to being outside with a slight breeze, and cruised through singles. Big shout out to Jesse, who competed great this past weekend, and came away with her first singles win! Also, I would like to make known that we had a great showing of Tennessee fans in the stands during our match. It was great seeing all that orange, regardless of how far away from home we were!
After the match, everyone was a bit hyper, as the buzz was going around about going to Disney World. For most of the girls, they had never been before, and for others we were stoked about going again. A little over an hour later, we finally could see "Walt Disney World: Where Dreams Come True" hanging over the highway in the distance! As we waited in the line of cars, waiting to pay for parking, some of us were hanging out the window yelling at each other from van to van. It was quite obvious how excited everyone was to finally be at Magic Kingdom. After we parked the car in the Rapunzel lot, we caught the shuttle to the Monorail.
Keep in mind, I am on crutches. As we approached the Monorail, Caitlyn ("Caits") and Deanna ("D") spotted an abandoned wheelchair at the bottom of the Monorail ramp. Excited, I hastily hopped in the wheelchair, and somehow managed to snap off one of the foot pedals! Caits tried to push me up the ramp to the train, but somehow could not get me rolling up the hill (either I ate too much or she was a bit tired after the match)! Thank goodness for D, she quickly took over, and got me up the ramp.
Finally, we made it to the park, bought our tickets, and were well on our way, briefly stopping at the entrance for a photo. Once we entered the park, we all headed for Tomorrowland. The wait for Space Mountain was about an hour, but since I could not stand in the actual line, we acquired a special ticket from the lady working the ride, telling us to come back in an hour with six others. At Disney World, if you are not physically able to wait in line, they will write you a pass. You can come back in the amount of time it would take if you were in the original line, then go down the fast pass line and into the handicap accessible entrance. We had an hour to kill, so we headed for Stitch's Great Escape.
Sidenote: As we entered the ride, I had a flashback of one of my worst Disney memories. When I was a kid, my family and I all went to Disney. We walked into the same building, which was at the time it was this ride called ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Disney World and the rides can't be that scary right? Wrong. This alien ride was devastating and the scariest thing I have ever encountered at an amusement park in my life. But thanks to Lilo and Stitch, the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter no longer exists, and I did not have to relive that awful childhood experience.
Right after Stitch's Great Escape, we headed over to one of my personal favorites the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. At this point the team had split into two groups; Caits, D, Jo, and I in one group, Jesse, Mike, Brynn, Kata and Sarah (Vegas) in the other. Jo decided that she wanted to order a blue raspberry slushy before riding Space Mountain for the first time. We rolled up to the entrance, handed them our pass and we were well on the way through the line. Jo was pushing me by this time, and I think my life flashed before my eyes a few times. Jo made it known before we got on the ride that she was feeling her blue slushy at this moment, not something we wanted to hear before getting on the ride. Caits is not fan of roller coasters, and Space Mountain is one of the only ones she has ridden. Her commentary prior to the ride was hilarious. To say the least, she was a bit nervous. No doubt, I picked the right seat, by sitting in front of her. She was screaming the whole time during the ride! Space Mountain was a success, and checked off our list.
TOTI GETS LOST
The next stop for my group, was to watch the light parade in front of the castle. While waiting for the show to start, we saw Vegas in the distance walking aimlessly around trying to locate the restroom and some food. Here is her story, specifically from her point of view:
Brynn, Jesse, and Kata were hungry and I really needed to go to the bathroom. I had gotten a lot of sun that day and was very excited to be at Disney World, so I was not thinking straight and failed to see the bathroom next to the restaurant, so I ended up taking a five-minute stroll around Tomorrowland until I found one. I went in one entrance came out a different one, kept walking for a couple minutes and then realized I wasn't in Tomorrowland anymore. I try to look around and I'm surrounded by a mob of people cause the parade was about to start. I try to turn around but Disney police won't let me and kept swatting their blue light sabers in my face telling me to keep walking one way, which was the opposite way I needed to go.
I decided to just stay in one spot but had to deal with being rudely poked and prodded by people telling me I was blocking their view of the parade. I then walked around the entire parameters of this theme park looking to cut across the parade somehow, looking for an opening to go for. The Disney ninja security that was wearing black and squatting on the ground (Spiderman style), seized me and said "You cannot pass here." At this point, I just gave up and went to Adventureland. I bought myself some cotton candy and rode Pirates of the Caribbean by myself. Finally, I met up with the group an hour-and-a-half late.
BACK TO ME...
After the light show, we watched the firework show and then my group headed for the other side of the park to the Haunted Mansion. En route, we saw the rest of the girls in the distance, and ran over to them. Collectively, we decided to go ride Splash Mountain together. This ride comfortably seats eight people, but we managed to squeeze nine in the log, as D, Jo, and I squeezed in the very back. We were informed prior to the ride that the back didn't get wet as all. Yes! Mike and Jesse took one for the team, and rode in the front. Unfortunately for them, they were soaked after the first go around. Since there was no line at all for this ride, we got to stay in the log and ride three consecutive times in a row.
It was around 11 p.m. as we finished riding Splash Mountain, so we all decided that we would spend one more hour in the park before leaving to go back to the hotel. We broke back into groups, and my group hit the Haunted Mansion then headed to It's A Small World, which was a great last ride. As we sat in the boat everyone had hit a wall, the length of the day was finally taking its toll on us. Within minutes of being back in the vans, everyone was passed out, finally arriving at the hotel after one.
We left the hotel that next morning at about 8:30 a.m., and headed back to Knoxville. All of my expectations for the weekend were met and finalized as I found a minion in the airport! Success! Soon as we got back, we started our preparation and practiced for this weekend.