Whoriskey, Pluskota Reach Doubles Final at Hilton Head Pro Circuit
Whoriskey Also Advances to Quarterfinals in Singles Draw
HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Fresh off an appearance in the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships and becoming the first All-Americans at the University of Tennessee since 2003, Lady Vol tennis players Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota continued their recent run of success by reaching the finals of the doubles draw at the Head/Tail Activewear Women's Pro Circuit Tournament at Hilton Head, S.C., this weekend.
The UT tandem advanced through the qualifying draw and won three contests in the main draw before dropping a tough match in the finals. The two players also competed in the singles portion of the competition, with Whoriskey winning six matches to advance to the quarterfinals of the main draw and Pluskota falling in the fourth and final round of the qualifying draw after a trio of victories.
Whoriskey and Pluskota opened up the tournament with an easy 6-1, 7-5, triumph over Julia Courter and C.C. Sardinha in the qualifying doubles draw to become one of two teams to advance to the main draw. In the first round, the Big Orange combo was pitted against a pair of teenagers in Allie Will and 15-year old Knoxville native Caitlyn Williams, with the UT All-Americans prevailing, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Another tough match followed in the quarterfinals, but Whoriskey and Pluskota were able to emerge victorious in three sets against Maria-Fernanda Alves of Brazil and Nicola Slater from Great Britain, 4-6, 6-1, 10-7, before taking out Oklahoma graduate Chelsea Orr and Romania native Anda Perianu, 6-1, 6-3, in the semifinals.
The final match saw Whoriskey and Pluskota fight the second-seeded pairing of Arizona State signee Jacqueline Cako and Vanderbilt recruit Alison Riske down to the wire, but the Lady Vols came up just short of victory, falling in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-10.
In addition to their exceptional doubles performances, Whoriskey and Pluskota put forth solid efforts individually in singles action as well. While Pluskota earned a bye in the first qualifying round, Whoriskey cruised past Ekaterina Kiseleva from Russia, 6-0, 6-2. Neither player had much trouble in the second round either with Pluskota defeating Jessica Kirkland, 6-2, 6-3 and Whoriskey blanking Rutgers signee Michelle Green, 6-0, 6-0.
The two Lady Vols continued to make victory look easy in the third round as Pluskota made quick work of rising Syracuse junior Jacquelynn Tang, 6-2, 6-0, and Whoriskey advanced after Australian Janelle Cuthbertson retired while trailing, 6-0, 2-1. While Pluskota’s singles tournament came to an end in the fourth qualifying round with a 6-2, 6-1, loss to rising Virginia junior and Chattanooga native Claire Bartlett, Whoriskey advanced to the main draw with a 6-3, 6-1, triumph over Jessica Pegula.
In what proved to be a mini-preview of the upcoming doubles final, Whoriskey took on Cako in the opening round of the main singles draw. The result was reversed, however, as Whoriskey claimed a come-from-behind victory, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. The East Sandwich, Mass., native then earned a berth in the quarterfinals when her second round opponent and Texas signee Aeriel Ellis retired while trailing, 6-1, 2-1, in the second set. The quarterfinals would prove to be the end of Whoriskey’s remarkable run though, as third-seeded Petra Rampre from Slovenia won the contest in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.
Whoriskey and Pluskota were officially tabbed as 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Americans on May 29, becoming the 13th and 14th All-Americans in school history after advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships. That same day, the Tennessee tandem earned a season-ending ranking of No. 8 in the nation in the final Campbell/ITA doubles rankings.