For the first time in more than five years, the University of Tennessee women’s tennis team is ranked among the top 10 in the nation, coming in at No. 10 in Campbell/Intercollegiate Tennis Association Collegiate Tennis Rankings released Tuesday morning. Freshman Natalie Pluskota was also rewarded for her recent run of success, claiming the first national singles ranking of her career.
Despite suffering a loss to then-No. 2 Georgia in their regular-season finale, the Lady Volunteers moved up three spots after holding steady at No. 13 for three straight weeks. The No. 10 ranking matches UT’s highest since Jan. 12, 2004.
The Lady Vols closed out the regular season by winning five of its final six matches. The squad has earned the No. 3 seed in this week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark., giving it a bye in the opening round of play for the first time since 2005. UT is scheduled to play the winner of Thursday’s showdown between No. 6-seeded South Carolina and 11th-seeded Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
In the singles portion of the poll, junior Caitlin Whoriskey tops all Lady Vol performers at No. 45, up three spots from her placement last week. The East Sandwich, Mass., native holds a 19-16 overall record from the top singles position, including a team-high eight wins over ranked opponents. Pluskota, meanwhile, comes in at No. 117 after picking up a straight-set, 6-3, 6-4, triumph over then-No. 45 Yvette Hyndman in UT’s loss to Georgia last Saturday. The win moved her record to 22-14 during her rookie campaign and marked her third of the season over a ranked opponent.
Whoriskey and Pluskota are also found in the doubles poll where the duo was rated 20th in the country. Since joining forces against Virginia on Feb. 8, the Tennessee tandem has amassed a 10-5 record and has clinched the doubles point for the Lady Vols on five occasions. Whoriskey also is a part of the No. 83-ranked doubles pairing with sophomore Maria Sorbello. Although they have yet to compete together this spring, Whoriskey and Sorbello put together a strong fall slate, going 7-4 with three of those wins coming against ranked opponents.
The Lady Vols will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., this week to open postseason play at the SEC Tournament. UT will be the third seed at the competition and is set to square off with either No. 22 South Carolina or No. 25 Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday, April 25 at the Billingsley Tennis Center.