Florida concluded its four-match homestand last weekend and now will play its next two, as well as four of its final six regular-season matches on the road. The top-ranked Gators (13-2, 6-1 SEC) begin the run on Friday at LSU (8-10, 1-7 SEC) traveling to Fayetteville to play Arkansas (10-10, 3-5 SEC) on Sunday.
The Gators extended their overall win streak to six after last weekend’s 4-1 win against No. 8 Alabama, and the 4-0 victory versus No. 18 Auburn.
“This was our first taste of playing an entire match indoors,” said UF head coach Roland Thornqvist of Sunday’s match against Auburn. “Playing singles first is a little different but I thought we handled it well. Auburn is really good. Some positions for Auburn have shortcomings technically, but their players step up with attitude. They were great last year and they’re even better this year. Our players handled it well and we found a way to compete.
“We’ve gone through a gauntlet of top teams and we’re going to take two days off this week for the first time all season,” Thornqvist continued. “We need to give our bodies a break and get some air in our heads. It’s not going to affect our forehands and backhands. Mentally, we need a few days off. This homestand has been exciting and we’ve been competing at a high level.”
Senior Lauren Embree, the No. 1-ranked singles player in the country, continued her incredible collegiate career with two more singles wins last week as she improved to 109-14 overall, including 78-5 in dual match action and 36-0 in SEC play.
Florida is 38-1 all-time record against LSU, including a 14-1 mark in Baton Rouge. The Tigers lone win in the series was a 4-3 decision on April 3, 2009. Since that setback the Gators have won four straight in the series.
“We’re leaving Gainesville after a five match homestand and I’m pretty pleased with where we are,” Thornqvist said. “Playing at LSU can be really difficult. They have a new coach and she played for me on the national championship team in 2003. Julia (Scaringe) Sell was a great player and she’s a great coach. They have a really good team and we have to be ready to play long rallies and we have to be ready for a great crowd.”
Florida is 23-1 all-time record against Arkansas, including a 9-1 mark in Fayetteville. The Razorback’s lone win in the series was a 4-0 decision on April 5, 2009. Since that setback the Gators have won three straight in the series.
“I think we feel good,” Thornqvist said of beginning the second half of the conference slate. “We’re starting to get a handle on doubles and we’re going to continue to try some new combinations. A couple of our players have been getting better at court positioning. We feel really good. We played a tremendous schedule up to this point, countless top-20 teams and I could tell in training that it was starting to take its toll. We definitely need these days off and maybe two more (days off) next week.”
Florida is an incredible 405-26 all-time against the SEC, including a 343-17 record in regular-season matches.
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