Three Lady Vols Open NCAA Individual Tournaments Wednesday
ATHENS, Ga. - Three Tennessee Lady Vol tennis student-athletes are set to open up NCAA Singles Tournament play Wednesday, May 23, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Junior Kata Szekely, ranked 57th, and sophomore Brynn Boren, ranked 32nd, are slotted against 9-16 seeded players at 10 a.m. ET, while senior Natalie Pluskota will go head-to-head with Utah's Anastasia Putilina at around noon ET.
Pluskota and Szekely open the NCAA Doubles Tournament on Thursday against third-seeded Shinann Featherston and Lauren McHale of North Carolina. The time has yet to be announced.
The singles championship features 64 players, while 32 tandems will compete for the doubles crown.
Entering the tournament on her third career-high six-match winning streak, Szekely will face 12th-ranked Emina Bektas of Michigan. Szekely, who is 3-0 all-time against Michigan opponents, holds a 9-4 record against ranked foes this season. Bektas is 32-9 and has won six of her last seven contests.
Boren, meanwhile, will face 11th-ranked Jillian O'Neill of Georgia Tech. A winner of 11 of her last 14 matches, Boren will matchup with O'Neill for the second time in her career. At the ITA All-American Championships on Oct. 7, 2010, the 2012 All-SEC First Team selection fell to O'Neill 6-0, 6-0 in just her eighth match at Tennessee.
O'Neill boasts a 30-13 record, while Boren enters the tournament with a 24-12 mark.
No. 35 Pluskota takes a 14-10 record into her meeting against Putilina, who is ranked 54th with a 27-14 mark. Pluskota has won five of her last six matches.
Tennessee's three selections to the NCAA Singles Tournament matches a program record, while Boren and Pluskota each earned their second consecutive entry. Both were eliminated in the first round last season. All three earned All-SEC honors this season.
Pluskota and Szekely are ranked 10th and enter Thursday's doubles action with eight consecutive wins to highlight their 15-1 record together. Familiar with Featherston and McHale, Pluskota teamed with Caitlyn Williams during UT's dual-match against UNC on Jan. 22 to knock off the duo, 8-4.
Featherston and McHale are currently ranked fourth and hold a 20-5 record.
Pluskota ranks eighth all-time at UT with 104 career doubles wins and became the first Lady Vol along with Caitlin Whoriskey to advance to the NCAA Doubles Tournament championship match in 2010. Pluskota also advanced to the doubles semifinals in 2009 and the Round of 16 in 2011.
A live blog will be provided on UTLadyVols.com, and fans can also follow along with the action via Twitter (@LadyVol_Tennis).
WEDNESDAY, MAY 23 - NCAA SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIPS FIRST ROUND
#32 Brynn Boren (UT) vs. #11 Jillian O'Neill (Georgia Tech) [9-16], 10 a.m. ET
#57 Kata Szekely (UT) vs. #12 Emina Bektas (Michigan) [9-16], 10 a.m. ET
#35 Natalie Pluskota (UT) vs. #54 Anastasia Putilina (Utah), Noon ET
THURSDAY, MAY 24 - NCAA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIPS FIRST ROUND
#10 Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (UT) vs. #4 Shinann Featherston/Lauren McHale (UNC)