Sept. 30, 2011
For live updates for Saturday's prequalifying draws, follow @PreQualies2010 on Twitter.
KNOXVILLE - After combining for 19 wins, the second-most at the Furman Fall Classic last weekend, against a field that included six teams that finished in the top 35 of the ITA's final 2011 poll, several members of the Tennessee women's tennis team will compete in the ITA All-American Championships beginning Saturday, Oct. 1, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
"It's a tough tournament," co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. of the win-or-go-home format. "It's a tournament where in the first round of the prequalifying you can get a really difficult match. You have to go mentally ready to play. You can't work yourself into that tournament."
Junior Kata Szekely, who started the season 3-0, will be the lone Lady Vol in action Saturday in prequalifying singles.
Szekely will open the tournament at 1:15 p.m. PDT at the Los Angeles Tennis Center against Stephen F. Austin senior Alina Shazhko, who was ranked No. 113 in the preseason ITA polls. The Hungary native is one-for-one against ranked opponents this season, defeating No. 68 Dijana Stojic of South Carolina in the flight three singles championship at Furman.
With a win, Szekely would advance to a 4:30 p.m. PDT match against the winner of Vicky Brook (Yale)/Mary Weatherholt (Nebraska).
One of two undefeated Lady Vols, Szekely can advance to qualifying singles by winning three matches.
Pluskota, already penciled in for the main draw of doubles with Henderson, is slated to play in qualifying singles. Boren, a native of Laguna Niguel, Calif., is scheduled to compete in qualifying singles as well, while also playing in qualifying doubles with Toti.
"You have to be ready to play from the first point of the first round. It's a great atmosphere and a great experience. This is the first year that we're actually sending more of our younger players just to expose them to see what's out there."
Eight singles players and four doubles duos will advance out of prequalifying and move into the qualifying draws, which are slated for Oct. 4-5 at the Riviera Country Club. Eight players from the singles draw and four doubles teams from the doubles draw will earn the right to compete in the main draws of the event. Main draw play will take place over four days, beginning on Oct. 6.
Singles quarterfinalists, doubles finalists and consolation champions will receive automatic entry into the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships Nov. 3-6 in Flushing, N.Y.
The All-American Championship began in 1983 and features the top 128 players in the country.