Pluskota & Szekely Remain Undefeated Together (7-0) With Pair of Wins
For Video Coverage With Comments From Natalie Pluskota & Kata Szekely: http://bit.ly/LVT_NIICDay1
**Updated Doubles Main Draw Is Attached. Consolation Draws Can Be Found This Evening At: http://bit.ly/NIICTourneyCentral
FLUSHING, N.Y. - Tennessee women’s tennis senior Natalie Pluskota and junior Kata Szekely took their first bite out of the Big Apple on Thursday morning, defeating each of their doubles opponents to advance to the main draw quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York.
“They played hard and competed well to start the tournament today,” co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick said. “They stuck to the gameplan in both matches.”
At the USTA Billy Jean King National Tennis Center, Pluskota and Szekely advanced to the round of 16 by opening the day with an 8-4 win over Veronica Popovici and Simona Synkova of Wyoming.
Awaiting the Tennessee tandem was the 12th-ranked duo in the country, Florida’s Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather, which received a first-round bye.
The rested Gators jumped out to a 3-1 lead, before the Lady Vols rallied to win the final seven games of the match (8-3) and earn a spot in the tournament’s quarterfinals, which will be held Friday.
“I think the first four games we played well,” Szekely said. “It wasn’t the fact that we played bad or anything. It was a good thing it was an early break so we had a chance to come back. After that, we played really well.”
Pluskota and Szekely, who started playing with each other at the Ohio Valley Regional, will put their 7-0 record together to test against the event’s top seed, Stanford’s Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs. The pair is ranked 11th nationally.
“We just have to stick to the basics and go after it,” Pluskota said. “We have to leave it all out on the court and know that we deserve to win. We’ve been working hard.”
With her 88 career doubles victories, Pluskota now ranks tied for 11th all-time in UT annals with Manisha Malhotra (1994-98). Pluskota is 9-3 this season.
Szekely, 9-1, has won nine consecutive doubles matches, dating back to a pair of wins with sophomore Kayla McMurry on Sept. 23 at the Furman Fall Classic.
Semifinals are slated for Saturday, while the championship match will be held Sunday.
PLUSKOTA FALLS IN SINGLES
Pitted against ninth-ranked Chelsey Gullickson (Georgia) in the National Indoors singles main draw on Thursday afternoon, Pluskota struggled to get anything going against the tournament’s third seed, losing 6-1, 6-3.
Pluskota will continue playing solo in the event’s consolation draw, which gets underway Friday.
Fans can follow all the action via a live blog on utladyvols.com and on Twitter by following @LadyVol_Tennis.
USTA/ITA NATIONAL INDOOR INTERCOLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIPS - Thursday Results
New York, N.Y.
DOUBLES MAIN DRAW ROUND OF 16
Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (UT) def. #12 Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (UF) 8-3
DOUBLES MAIN DRAW FIRST ROUND
Pluskota/Szekely (UT) def. Veronica Popovici/Simona Synkova (Wyoming) 8-4
SINGLES MAIN DRAW FIRST ROUND
Chelsey Gullickson (Georgia) def. Pluskota (UT) 6-1, 6-3