Three Lady Vols in Round of 32 singles in tennis

For the first time in school history, three members of the Tennessee women's tennis team advanced to the NCAA singles championships Round of 32.

Sophomore Brynn Boren and junior Kata Szekely both ousted 9-16 seeds and senior Natalie Pluskota grinded out added another victory in the opening round at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday.

Szekely, who is ranked 57th, defeated No. 12 Emina Bektas of Michigan 6-4, 7-5.

"In the second set, my opponent started playing better and better," said Szekely in a UT release. "She made a lot of first serves which was really important. After that, I just tried to stay focused and tried to win my service games, hoping that at some point I would have a chance to break her back."

Boren, who is ranked 32nd, knocked off No. 11 Jillian O'Neill of Georgia Tech 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.

"She was on a roll and she was playing a lot better," said Boren, who had lost 6-0, 6-0 to O'Neill in 2010 during her eighth career match. "My goal for the whole entire match was to keep fighting no matter what. That's what I did in game three. I wasn't going to give up."

Pluskota, at No. 35, held off No. 54 Anastasia Putilina of Utah 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

"Going in, I had a lead and then went down 5-4," said Pluskota. "Going into her serve, I just had to go after and make her work on her service game. I knew if I could break and then hold the next game that I'd be in a comfortable spot. I did that and ended up coming out on top."

Next up for Boren is No. 23 Nina Secerbegovic of Baylor. Boren beat Secerbegovic 6-0, 6-3 at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships earlier this season.

Szekely's next opponent is Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State.

Pluskota will take on No. 50 Lacey Smith of Arizona, an upset winner over 10th-ranked Kristi Boxx of Ole Miss.

"We worked hard to get to where we are today," said Pluskota. "All three of us moving on is a great accomplishment, but we're definitely not stopping here. We're going to go into tomorrow strong and hopefully, come out on top."

The first round of doubles starts today with Pluskota and Szekely, ranked 10th, taking on No. 4 Shinann Featherston and Lauren McHale of North Carolina.

Men's Tennis: Tennessee freshman Mikelis Libietis fell behind at start and never got his rhythm going in a 6-0, 6-1 loss to 10th-ranked Chase Buchanan of Ohio State in the opening round of the NCAA men's singles championships.

Libietis, who is ranked No. 28, ended the season with a team-high in wins and a 20-14 record.

"Mikelis had a great year playing as a freshman at No. 1, earning his way into the NCAA tournament," Tennessee coach Sam Winterbotham said. "That's a really good accomplishment. We're proud of that, but obviously he did not play very well today.

"He was a little nervous. His opponent is very good. He's one of the favorites in this draw and Mikelis had to play well to compete. Chase was able to get a stranglehold early on in the match."

Libietis and freshman Hunter Reese open the doubles tournament today against Texas Tech's Raony Carvalho and Gonzalo Escobar.

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