Still going! Pluskota headed to NCAA Final Four
From STAFF REPORTS
ATHENS — Northgate graduate and four-time University of Tennessee All-American Natalie Pluskota just doesn’t want her college tennis career to end.
So the start of her pro career will have to wait just a little longer.
Saturday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Center, Pluskota and her doubles partner Kata Szekely battled the heat and a challenge from SEC and Florida rivals Lauren Embree and Joanne Mather to become the first Lady Vols doubles team to advance to the NCAA Division I Final Four.
Pluskota and Szekely moved to the Final Four by winning a third-set tiebreaker 6-4, 4-6, and 7-6.
Florida’s Embree/Mather only lost nine times in their career, but two of those loses
Florida’s Embree/Mather duo only lost nine total matches during their time playing together for the Gators. Two of those came to Natalie Pluskota and Kata Szekely. UT’s tandem also bested the Gator duo at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships last November.
Trailing 6-5 in the final set, Pluskota and Szekely held serve to even the match at 6-all
After trading the first six points of the tiebreaker to even it at 3-all, the tennis duo won the final four points to advance seize the match.
Pluskota and Szekely should be used to tiebreakers by now
In Friday’s victory over Virginia’s Emily Fraser and Lindsey Hardenberger, Pluskota and Szekely won both sets via the tiebreaker to move on to the quarterfinals.
Pluskota also earned her first All-American honor in singles this week.
Pluskota and Szekely are the third doubles team from Tennessee to reach the final four.
She and her partner will be back on the court today against Stanford’s Mallory Burdette and Nichole Gibbs.
Burdette and Gibbs are the third-ranked doubles team in the country.
It will give Pluskota a chance at some revenge.
Gibbs knocked the Northgate graduate out of the singles tournament in 7-6, 7-6.
The doubles finals are set for Monday.
Pluskota has won 107 matches in her doubles career.
That’s the sixth most in Lady Vols’ history.