Pluskota Wins Singles Title at ITA/USTA National Summer Championships
Rosalía Alda and Maria Sorbello Reach Semifinals of Doubles Draw
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – University of Tennessee rising sophomore Natalie Pluskota capped off a stellar summer for the Lady Volunteer tennis team on Tuesday, winning the singles title at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/United States Tennis Association National Summer Championships at the Indiana University Varsity Tennis Center in Bloomington, Ind. She is now guaranteed a wild card berth into the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships in early October.
“I’m definitely pumped about winning this tournament,” Pluskota said. “I’ve worked hard all summer and this will just give me more confidence and momentum heading into the fall. I’m excited to get back to school to continue working on my game in preparation for the ITA All-America tournament in October.”
In addition to Pluskota’s accomplishment in the singles portion of the tournament, the Tennessee tandem of rising juniors Rosalía Alda and Maria Sorbello picked up three wins to reach the semifinals of the doubles draw before falling to the top-seeded team and eventual tournament champion. Pluskota and Alabama freshman Alexa Guarachi, meanwhile, paired up to advance to the quarterfinals.
After a bye in the opening round, Pluskota’s run to the championship started with a perfect 6-0, 6-0, shutout over Wright State’s Kenish Webb. The Newnan, Ga., native then made quick work of Missy Harris from Utah, 6-1, 6-3, and Mallory Weber from Missouri, 6-2, 6-4, in the third and fourth rounds, respectively.
Arguably, Pluskota’s biggest win of the tournament came in the quarterfinals where she defeated top-seeded Kristy Frilling from Notre Dame, 7-6, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6). Frilling finished last season as the 29th-ranked singles player in the nation. Pluskota followed up that performance by taking out yet another member of the Fighting Irish squad, ninth-seeded Christine McGaffigan, in the semifinals, by the score of 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-3).
The final match pitted the fifth-seeded Pluskota against No. 3-seed Jennifer Stevens from Virginia. Although Pluskota struggled in the first set, she was able right the ship and emerge victorious in a third-set tiebreaker, 1-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-4), to claim the singles title and earn an automatic wild card berth into the singles draw at the ITA All-American Championships in October. She will also compete with senior Caitlin Whoriskey in the doubles draw at that tournament after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament and earning All-America honors last season.
Three other Lady Vols also saw action in the singles draw, with juniors Maria Sorbello and Rosalía Alda advancing to the fourth round and quarterfinals, respectively. Sophomore Katie Lee, meanwhile, was able to defeat the fifth-seeded Denise Muresan from Michigan, 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-5) but fell in the third round to Illinois’ Rachel White, 6-2, 7-6.
Sorbello scored a pair of victories before being knocked out by McGaffigan, 6-0, 6-4, in the fourth round. The Mackay, Australia, native opened the tournament by winning a three-set thriller, 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6) against Brown’s Misia Krasowski and followed that up with an impressive 6-3, 6-4, triumph over No. 5-seed Michelle Sammons from Purdue.
Alda, seeded ninth at the competition, got off to a fast start as well, tallying a 6-3, 6-1, defeat of Charlotte Martin from host-school Indiana. The Round Rock, Texas, product, who won the singles title at the Texas A&M summer circuit event in July, then earned a bye through the fourth round when DePaul’s Gia McKnight was forced to withdraw due to injury. Alda’s run came to an end in the quarterfinals when Marisa Lambropoulos from Illinois staked claim to a 7-5, 5-7, 1-0 (10-6), decision.
In the doubles draw, Pluskota joined forces with Guarachi from Alabama to form the second-seeded team in the competition. The duo got things off on the right foot with an 8-5 win over a pair of BIG EAST players, Mandy Brown from Louisville and Emily Harman from Syracuse, in the opening round. Alda and Sorbello followed suit shortly thereafter, taking out Illinois’ Kristina Minor and high-school star Jarret Fisher, 8-3.
The two doubles pairings remained dominant in the second round with Pluskota and Guarachi blanking the DePaul duo of McKnight and Cali Gustafson, 8-0, and Alda and Sorbello easily dispatching the Western Michigan team of Emily Dudzik and Yumi Matsuto by the score of 8-1.
That would be the final win for Pluskota and Guarichi, however, as they were defeated in the quarterfinals by the Notre Dame squad of McGaffigan and Kristen Rafael, 8-5. Alda and Sorbello kept on trucking though, moving on to the semifinals with an 8-4 triumph over the fourth-seeded Ohio State combo of Christina Keesey and Cameron Hubbs.
Once again, a pair of Fighting Irish players marked the downfall for a Tennessee team, as Alda and Sorbello’s run came to an end in the semifinals with an 8-2 loss at the hands of the top-seeded tandem of Frilling and Kali Krisik, which would go on to win the tournament’s doubles title.
With the slate of summer tournaments now finished the Lady Vol tennis team will return to Knoxville in time for classes to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 19. The Big Orange will open the fall portion of its schedule at the SEC Fall Coaches Classic in Nashville, Sept. 11-13.