Florida concludes its season-opening stretch of playing three matches in five days when the top-ranked Gators face their stiffest challenge of the young slate playing No. 15 Baylor on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex, where admission to all regular-season matches is free.
The first 150 kids at the match receive a free Florida Tennis backpack. All kids are invited to participate in the Kids Korner, meet Alberta and stand with the Gators during team introductions. Following the match, the Gators will be signing official autograph posters.
Saturday’s match marks the first of five straight top-20-ranked opponents for the Gators (2-0), who have won 109 consecutive home matches, a streak that is the longest active run of any NCAA Division I women’s team in any sport. It is the second-longest active home winning streak in all NCAA Division I competition, trailing only the 155-match run owned by the Ohio State men’s tennis team, which next plays host to Georgia on Feb. 3.
Mother Nature has won more than either team in this series recently, but the Gators do hold a 4-0 series record against Baylor, including last year’s 5-2 win in Waco. Florida and Baylor tried to play each other twice during the 2010-11 regular season, but both times ended with only Mother Nature winning, as rain cancelled both match-ups. UF and BU were successful playing three times prior to the 2010-11 rain-out, with the Gators winning all three in NCAA competition, most recently a tough 4-2 win in the 2007 NCAA Round of 16 held in Athens, Ga.
In addition to its overall 109-match home winning streak, Florida has won 114 consecutive regular-season home matches - not including SEC Tournament or NCAA Championship events. The current streak is the longest of its kind in program history, passing the 71 in a row compiled from 1994-2001.
The Gators swept South Florida and UCF to launch their 41st season of varsity competition.
“After these two days of play, I’ve been very pleased,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said following the team’s victory against UCF on Wednesday. “We’re at a very good spot now and I think we’ll be definitely ready for Baylor on Saturday.”
Baylor (3-0) opened its 2013 dual match season with wins against Sam Houston State (W, 7-0), Florida State (W, 4-1) and Texas Tech (W, 4-3).
Gator senior Lauren Embree enters the Feb. 2 match against Baylor with 99 career doubles wins and 98 career singles victories. She is on pace to become the 14th Gator in history to win 100 career doubles matches and the 24th Gator to win 100 singles matches.
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s tennis:
Official Website: http://www.gatorzone.com/tennis/women/
Twitter: @GatorZoneTennis and @GatorZoneNews