Gators Cruise to 4-1 Victory Over Alabama for Fifth SEC Win
The second-ranked Florida women’s tennis team showed its strength in its’ singles play again Friday night as it found itself down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point to eighth-ranked Alabama, but was able to win four straight singles matches, all in straight sets, for the easy 4-1 victory over the Crimson Tide.
The Gators (12-2, 5-1 SEC) continued their undefeated streak against the Crimson Tide (13-2, 5-1 SEC) as they are now 38-0 all-time against Alabama. The team also moved to 182-1 all-time at home against SEC opponents. Moving to 9-0 at home on the year, UF also extended its overall program-record home winning streak to 116 straight matches with 19 coming in postseason play.
After falling behind early after doubles, the Gators didn’t need long to get four singles wins, all in straight sets. Juniors Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) both won their matches quickly, followed by senior Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.), who continued her undefeated streak of singles matches in dual play. Embree is now 11-0 during the spring season. The clinching match came from freshman Brianna Morgan (Beverly Hills, Calif.) at court four. Like her teammates, she also won her match in straight sets as a nice bounce back from a doubles loss earlier in the night.
“I really like this team,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “Losing the doubles point the way we did, I was curious to see how our freshmen would respond in singles. I was really pleased to see Brianna (Morgan) shook that off like a scarred veteran. You never know how a freshman will respond. We had five match points and if you win one of those, things change, so we’re right there. I just really like this team. There was never a doubt, for me, in our singles play. I think we were fantastic in singles.”
Coming into Friday’s match, the Gators had won three of their last four doubles points and was looking for its second in a row against the Tide. Courts one and two stayed close for the majority of the time, but it was all UF at court three as Cercone and Janowicz cruised to an 8-3 win over Emily Zubor and Natalia Maynetto for their first win together as a team this season. In their careers, Janowicz and Cercone have been quite the tandem as they are now 14-4 together with five wins coming in SEC play.
Needing only one match to clinch the doubles point, it seemed as if Florida would be in the driver’s seat with still two matches to play. However, the Crimson Tide were up a break at the remaining courts for over half of the remaining time.
At court two, Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) were behind the eight-ball all match, but were able to pull within 6-5 after a nice break. Unfortunately, Antonio Foehse and Maya Jansen broke the UF serve in the very next game to take a 7-5 lead. A lead they held in the final game to win the match, 8-5.
With the doubles point coming down to court one, the Orange and Blue finally broke through at court one to make it 4-all, as Embree and Morgan were looking to take the lead for good. The Tide had other plans and broke the Gators serve right back to re-take the 5-4 lead.
Both teams held their respective serves in the next three games, as Alabama had the 7-5 advantage, but needed one more break to earn the win. Embree and Morgan went on to win three straight games for a 8-7 lead, but couldn’t get the extra broken serve from the Tide as the match was sent to a tiebreaker. The extra game went the distance as both teams fought to a 9-all score. However, a forehand from Morgan was just a bit long, giving Alabama the court one victory, 9-8 (9), and the doubles point going into singles.
“We’re going to get better in doubles,” Thornqvist said. “Our three teams looked fantastic today. From the beginning, I think we’re making progress. We had five match points, and if we get one of those, we win the doubles point and we’re happy. I love this team, they know how to compartmentalize. It shows great confidence and strong will.”
Not to be deterred, the Gators did exactly what they had been doing all year. Even when needing four singles wins, UF came out on fire as Cercone and Janowicz both claimed quick victories at courts three and five, respectively. Cercone was the first off the court after needing just an hour and five minutes to dispatch Maya Jansen, 6-3, 6-1, for her 17th win of the year, 11th of the spring.
Eight minutes later, it was Janowicz’s turn as she also won her match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0, over Emily Zabor, to give Florida the lead in the overall team standings, 2-1. The junior is now 25-6 for the year and as four wins in SEC play.
From there, it was like clockwork as Embree won her first match as the nation’s top-ranked player, 6-1, 6-3, over Macfarlane, followed by Morgan’s, 6-1, 6-3, victory over Alabama’s Antonia Foehse, for her ninth singles win of the dual season.
Florida will be back on the courts on Sunday as it will close out its five-match homestand against No. 18 Auburn with first serve starting at 1 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the match will be moved indoors to the Perry Indoor Tennis Center.
Women’s College Tennis
No. 8 Alabama at No. 2 Florida
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
Friday, March 22, 2013
Final Score: Florida 4, Alabama 1
Doubles (order of finish: 3, 2, 1*)
1. Alexa Guarachi/Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA) d. Lauren Embree/Brianna Morgan (UF) 9-8 (9)
2. Antonia Foehse/Maya Jansen (UA) d. Danielle Collins/Sofie Oyen (UF) 8-5
3. Alex Cercone/Olivia Janowicz (UF) d. Emily Zabor/Natalia Maynetto (UA) 8-3
Singles (order of finish: 3, 5, 1, 4*)
1. No. 1 Lauren Embree (UF) d. No. 25 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA) 6-1, 6-3
2. No. 14 Sofie Oyen (UF) vs. No. 60 Alexa Guarachi (UA) DNF
3. No. 116 Alexandra Cercone (UF) d. No. 73 Maya Jansen (UA) 6-3, 6-1
4. Brianna Morgan (UF) d. Antonia Foehse (UA) 6-1, 6-3
5. Olivia Janowicz (UF) d. Emily Zabor (UA) 6-4, 6-0
6. Caroline Hitimana vs. Natalia Maynetto (UA) DNF
Records: Florida: 12-2, 5-1 SEC; Alabama: 13-2, 5-1 SEC