Tennis Leaps To Fifth In ITA Rankings
No. 28 Natalie Pluskota

Feb. 28, 2012

KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team (9-3) earned the fifth spot in Tuesday's Campbell/ITA College Tennis Team Rankings, its first top-five rating since a program-best second in May 2001.

Tennessee has won four consecutive matches and nine of its last 10 as the Lady Vols prepare to open SEC play this weekend, hosting No. 15 Florida on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 22 South Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to each match is free.

With nine wins, Tennessee enters its SEC slate with its most victories since 2002, when the Lady Vols reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

The Lady Vols, ranked 10th in the previous two polls, have knocked off three Top 12 teams and five Top 25 opponents overall (No. 5 Baylor, No. 10 Michigan, No. 12 Northwestern, No. 22 Tulsa & No. 24 Notre Dame).

Additionally, UT has shutout four opponents (No. 58 UC Davis, No. 22 Tulsa, No. 5 Baylor & UCF).

A large part of Tennessee's success in 2012 has had to do with winning the doubles point in all 12 matches, a program record to open a season.

When the newest doubles rankings came out Tuesday, the Lady Vols' efforts were rewarded.

Tennessee is the only school in the country with two tandems ranked in the top 10, with Natalie Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams placing ninth and Brynn Boren and Sarah Toti right behind in 10th.

Pluskota and Williams are 6-2 together in 2012 with wins over three of the current top five ranked duos in the country. Tennessee's top pairing has defeated No. 2 Kristy Frilling and Shannon Mathews (Notre Dame), No. 3 Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria (USC) and No. 5 Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender (Michigan).

Boren and Toti, meanwhile, are in the midst of a 15-match winning streak dating back to the fall. UT's No. 2 duo has opened the dual-match season with an SEC-best mark of 12-0 and is 23-3 overall, with a team-high eight doubles-point clinchers. Boren and Toti had been ranked No. 2 since Feb. 16.

Pluskota is also ranked with Kata Szekely in doubles at 17th, but the two haven't played together this spring.

Tennessee is one of just three schools nationally to have three players ranked in the Top 37, No. 2 USC and Friday's opponent, Florida.

Pluskota leads the way for the Lady Vols, up eight spots to No. 28.

Despite three-match winning streaks for Boren and Szekely, the former dropped a spot to No. 35, while the latter remained ranked 37th.

Tennessee's matches this weekend are slated to be played outside at Barksdale Stadium, but weather may force play indoors to the adjacent Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Fans can follow @LadyVol_Tennis on Twitter for the latest updates.





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