Sept. 22, 2011
KNOXVILLE - The Tennessee women's tennis team will open the 2011-12 season Friday at the 25th annual Furman Fall Classic, where six of the other seven teams competing were ranked in the top 35 in the final 2011 ITA College Tennis rankings.
The event, held at the Mickel Tennis Center on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, S.C., features seven singles and three doubles flights. Doubles play will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, followed by singles action at 1 p.m. Action will continue on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. each day.
All ranked in last season's final poll, North Carolina (4th), Clemson (14th), Florida State (15th), Vanderbilt (16th), Alabama (28th) and South Carolina (32nd) will provide an early test for the Lady Vols, which finished 17th themselves.
Additionally, senior Natalie Pluskota (29th) and Brynn Boren (31st) are two of 21 singles players participating ranked in the preseason ITA rankings, while the pairings of Pluskota and freshman Joanna Henderson (22nd) and Boren and freshman Sarah Toti (28th) are two of 11 doubles teams ranked.
"Our freshmen are going to get a good taste of what it's like to compete at the level we're going to compete at the rest of the year so we look forward to it," co-head coach Mike Patrick said. "We've had a couple weeks of practice. Now, we get to go and have kind of an evaluation and watch what they do under pressure."
A pair of current Lady Vols have seen previous success at the Furman Fall Classic.
Last year, Boren captured third place in her singles flight.
Five of the seven Lady Vols are underclassmen, including three freshmen. Pluskota, junior Kata Szekely, Boren and sophomore Kayla McMurray are UT's four returnees from a squad that went 20-8 in 2011 and appeared in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Pluskota earned first team All-SEC honors last season, while Boren and Szekely were selected to the conference's second team.
Patrick, in his 25th season at UT, and Sonia Hahn-Patrick are entering their 15th season as co-head tennis coaches for the Lady Vols. Together, they have compiled a 254-133 (.656) record and advanced to seven NCAA Round of 16s and one final four.
Fans can follow along with the competition on the live blog through all three days of the event, and by following @LadyVol_Tennis on Twitter.