Florida makes its first road trip of the season, traveling to the state of North Carolina to play a pair of top-4 opponents. The second-ranked Gators first face No. 4 Duke on Sunday, before battling No. 1 North Carolina on Monday afternoon.
Either match could be played indoors depending on the local weather.
The Gators are coming off a successful season-opening weekend when the squad won three matches in five days, highlighted with the 7-0 sweep against No. 15 Baylor. The win against the Bears was on Feb. 2 and that was the last time the Gators competed.
Duke and North Carolina both competed at the USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships in Virginia, Feb. 7-10, when the Blue Devils (5-1) reached the semifinals and the Tar Heels (9-0) won the title, knocking off then-No. 2-ranked UCLA, 4-3.
Florida is 8-7 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. The most recent meeting was on May 22, 2012, when the second-ranked Gators knocked off top-ranked UCLA, 4-0, in the final of the 2012 NCAA Championships.
WATCH the match previews with Alexandra Cercone, Danielle Collins and Sofie Oyen:
2 Ways 2 Watch:
The Gators lead the all-time series against Duke, 35-4, including last year’s 5-0 regular-season win on March 14 and the 4-3 thriller in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, as UF improved to 6-0 in NCAA Championship matches versus the Blue Devils. The Blue Devils handed the Gators a rare home loss back on March 28, 2001, when then-second-ranked Duke knocked off then-fifth-ranked Florida, 4-1. Duke’s last win against Florida was a 4-3 thriller on Feb. 15, 2008 in Durham.
In last year’s match-up against the Blue Devils, UF’s Alexandra Cercone (a.k.a. “Ms. May” for her then- 8-0 record in NCAA singles dual matches) rallied for a three-set singles victory in the deciding match and Florida defeated third-seeded Duke, 4-3, in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA Championships. Cercone trailed 2-0 in the third set but regrouped to win the next three games and held for a 4-2 lead en route to the 3 hour and 14 minute win. Florida took the hard-fought doubles point, with Allie Will and Sofie Oyen defeating Clayton and Ester Goldfeld, 8-3. Duke claimed the win on court three, setting the stage for court two, where the veteran pair of Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather stepped up to earn the 9-8 (7-1) victory against Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan. Embree, Mather added singles wins to help the Gators capture the dual match.
The Gators lead the all-time series against the Tar Heels, 10-2. North Carolina defeated Florida, 4-3, in Chapel Hill on Feb. 8, 2009. UF’s other setback in the series was another 4-3 thriller in Chapel Hill on Feb. 26, 2006. The teams tried to play last year, but rain prevented the match from being held in Gainesville.
Senior Lauren Embree, ranked fourth in the ITA National Singles Rankings, became the 14th Gator to win 100 career doubles matches when she teamed with Sofie Oyen and defeated Baylor’s Ema Burgic and Kiah Generette, 8-5, to secure the first team point of the dual match.
Embree also is on pace to become the 24th Gator to win 100 career singles matches. Her thrilling 6-4, 6-7 (6), 1-0 (10-7) singles win against Baylor’s No. 16 Ema Burgic was the 99th of her career and she improved to 99-14 in her career.
If she reaches the 100-win plateau in both singles and doubles, Embree would become only the eighth Gator to do so in a career, joining Nicole Arendt, Dawn Buth, Stephanie Nickitas, Jessica Lehnhoff, Nina Suvak, Joanna Mather and Zerene Reyes.
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s tennis:
Official Website: http://www.gatorzone.com/tennis/women/
Twitter: @GatorZoneTennis and @GatorZoneNews