May 2, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - Matching a program record, three members of the 22nd-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team have been selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships, two of which were also chosen for the Doubles Championships, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
Joined by first-time selection Kata Szekely, Brynn Boren and Natalie Pluskota earned at-large decisions in the singles field of 64 for the second consecutive year. Pluskota and Szekely, meanwhile, will also join forces in doubles as one of 32 teams.
The singles and doubles championships will be held in Athens, Ga. following the NCAA Team Championships, from May 23-28. Opening round pairings are scheduled to be released on May 22.
Boren, Pluskota and Szekely all earned All-SEC honors in 2012, with Boren garnering the first team nod, and Pluskota and Szekely placed on the second team.
With 24 singles wins, Boren leads the Lady Vols. Heading into the NCAA Team Championships, Boren has won 11 of her last 13, which included a career-high seven-match winning streak. She was knocked out of last year's singles tournament in a three-set tiebreaker by Indiana's Leslie Hureau, who advanced to the Round of 16. Boren is currently ranked a team-high 29th in the ITA poll, with a season-best mark of 25th.
A winner of four of her last five, Pluskota is looking to improve upon her first-round exit in 2011. Six of her 13 wins this season have come against ranked competition, including three Top 30 wins. Pluskota is currently slotted at 33 in the ITA poll.
Elevating her game to new heights this season, Szekely is second on the squad with 23 wins, just behind Boren. Szekely has won four consecutive matches, five of her last six and has knocked off eight ranked opponents. Currently ranked 56th, Szekely has strung together at least three straight wins on six separate occasions this season.
Together, Pluskota and Szekely comprise the 11th-ranked duo in the country. Undefeated in dual-match play (7-0), the tandem is 14-1 overall and has defeated four ranked opponents. The pair won the 2011 USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional in the fall before advancing to the National Indoor quarterfinals.
Pluskota has had elite success in the NCAA Doubles Championship, reaching the semifinals as a freshman in 2009 and the title match as a sophomore. She will enter the doubles tournament for the fourth time and ranks eighth all-time at UT with 103 wins.
In regards to Pluskota's options, if a student-athlete would have been selected to the championship with two different partners, that student-athlete has the ability to be an alternate in the draw with the other partner. This only comes into play if the student-athlete not listed on both teams is unable to participate.
Boren and Toti will not be able to participate as Toti is recovering from ACL surgery, which she had on April 6.
The Lady Vols open team tournament play Friday, May 11, against VCU in Charlottesville, Va. The winner will face Virginia of Fairleigh Dickinson the following day for the right to advance to the Round of 16 in Athens, Ga.