April 8, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - In the most recent installment of "Net Exchanges," University of Tennessee junior Caitlin Whoriskey took some time out of her busy schedule to sit down with UTLadyVols.com to discuss the team's three-match winning streak as well as its upcoming matches against Kentucky and Vanderbilt this weekend.
The East Sandwich, Mass., native has helped the Lady Vols to an impressive 13-4 record this season, including a 6-2 mark in Southeastern Conference matches, which is good for second in the conference. Playing at the No. 1 position in both singles and doubles, Whoriskey has consistently faced off against the opposing team's best players. She currently ranks No. 32 in the country in the Campbell/ITA singles poll with a record of 17-15, including a squad-best seven wins over ranked opponents. In doubles, she joins forces with freshman Natalie Pluskota to form the nation's No. 39-ranked pairing with a record of 8-4.
The Big Orange will finish the regular season with a three-match homestand, starting with a 1 p.m. contest against No. 20 Kentucky on Friday, April 10. Following that contest, the Lady Vols will host 19th-ranked Vanderbilt at the same time two days later, before welcoming No. 2 Georgia to Rocky Top at Noon on Saturday, April 12 for Senior Day. All three matches will take place at the Goodfriend Tennis Center in Knoxville and live scoring will be available at www.UTLadyVols.com.
TEN QUESTIONS WITH Caitlin Whoriskey
The team has really bounced back strong after a tough loss to Arkansas with three consecutive wins. What has been the biggest difference in those matches?
"The loss to Arkansas was very disappointing for all of us. We went in there believing we were going to win and came up short at the very end. I don't think anyone on the team wants to have that feeling again. Since then, we have been working on being more high energy and improving the small weaknesses in our game that our opponent may pick up on. Most importantly though, we know now that we need to stay focused on every point and not let up because another team may sneak up on us like Arkansas did."
You play at the No. 1 position in both singles and doubles. How do you handle the added pressure of playing against the best players every week?
"Ha! Good question. Well, in the past few weeks I've played some of the best players in the country. I try not to know the ranking of my opponents because a number doesn't say much about how they play. Everyone has their good days, bad days, and great days. I just go into each match thinking it's going to be a battle no matter who I am playing. I try to give everything I have, and hopefully by doing that I can help my team out with a point."
You have been paired with freshman Natalie Pluskota in doubles for almost two months now. How do you feel you are progressing as a team?
"We have been up and down lately, but we are still trying to learn how to play with one another. Late in matches we are playing the way we should, it's just we need to start every match aggressive from the first point. It's easier said than done, but that is what needs to happen for us to get better."
How do you think the team matches up against Kentucky and Vanderbilt this weekend? What will you have to do in order to be successful?
"Both Kentucky and Vanderbilt are difficult teams to play. They are both crafty and never give up. I think we have a good shot to beat them but everyone has to go out to the court with the mindset that it's going to be a battle. Both teams are steady from the baseline, so it's going to come down to who is more mentally tough, as well as who is willing to take the risks necessary to come out on top. We have shown what we are capable of in previous matches, we just have to go out there and leave everything we have on the court."
How do you prepare for a match?
"I usually hit for about an hour early in the morning, just trying to get into a rhythm, and playing the way I want to in my match. Other than that, I sometimes listen to my music and just relax."
Do you have any superstitions?
"I am very particular when it comes to my racquets. The string has to be right, the over-grip perfect and it has to be in the right spot in my bag. I also try not to step on the lines of the court in between points."
What made you decide to choose Tennessee?
"I chose Tennessee because my former coach played here. Also, Mike knew me for awhile and had seen me on both my good days and bad days, so he knew what he was getting into. Ha! Tennessee is in a great conference so, no matter where you play in the lineup, you are going to play great players. Most importantly, Tennessee has a great athletic program with a lot of history, so just to be a part of it is amazing."
What are your goals for the rest of this season, both individually and as a team?
"As a team it would be great to win the SEC, as well as host the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but we all want to win a national championship. Individually, I want to become an All-American, and continue to improve my game for the future."
What do you consider your greatest tennis accomplishment so far?
"Winning the Riviera/ITA All-America doubles title out in California with Zsófia (Zubor) last fall. We made it through the qualifying rounds and ended up winning the whole thing. It was great."
What is your favorite thing about Tennessee so far?
"Probably the people. Most everyone will go out of their way to help you out with anything you need."
GETTING TO KNOW Caitlin Whoriskey
Nickname: Whorsk or Gingy (I only allow the coaches to call me that!)
Favorite place to eat in Knoxville: Trio
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite hang out spot on campus: The Thornton Center. Well, it's not my favorite place, but I practically live there.
Favorite tennis racquet: Babolat Pure Drive
Favorite movie: Anchorman, A League of Their Own, and Happy Gilmore
Favorite vacation spot: The beach on Cape Cod
Dream vacation spot: Rome, Italy
Favorite class at UT: My "Natural Hazards" class in the geography department
Hardest class: Western Civilization 241
"Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running."
Or, "There's only one way to succeed in anything and that is to give everything."
Or, "When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
What motivates you?
"Competition, winning and trying to be the best."
What is one thing about yourself that most people don't know?
"I hate flying. I am fine landing but for take-off and turbulence the armrest is mine."
What is your "must have" accessory?
What would you do with a million dollars?
"I would probably give it to my parents to try and make a dent in what I owe them for everything they have done for me the past 21 years."
What was the last song you listened to?
"Sunshine," by the All-American Rejects
If you could be a Disney character, which one would you be?
"I'm not sure, but Mike would probably say Grumpy. Haha!"
What is the best advice that you have ever received?
"Cherish your wins, but don't settle for them."