Special report on Florida Gators women’s tennis:

ATHENS, Ga. – In a match full of momentum swings, it was Gator freshman Ingrid Neel who shrugged off the pressure and rallied for a three-set victory that clinched Florida’s 4-1 win against Stanford and secured the seventh NCAA Championship title in program history.

The Gators began the match at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex winning the doubles point and took early leads in singles action, capturing the first set on three courts.

Kourtney Keegan needed exactly one hour into singles play to give Florida a 2-0 lead as she posted a 6-0, 6-0 win against Emma Higuchi. It was the Gator senior’s first double-bagel singles win of the season and her first-ever in NCAA dual match play, as she capped the team portion of her career just 75 miles from her hometown of Roswell, Ga.

Florida seemed firmly in control, as Belinda Woolcock and Brooke Austin were nearing the end of their respective matches – even holding simultaneous match points that would have effectively ended the dual match right then.

Emily Arbuthnott, however, fought off a pair of match points against Austin and evened the second set at 5-all.

Woolcock did go on to earn a 6-1, 6-3 victory against Caroline Doyle on court one in one hour and 22 minutes and Florida took a 3-0 lead. Woolcock won the final four games of the match, breaking twice including once at love for a 4-3 lead.

Meanwhile, Arbuthnott won the second set against Austin and forced a third.

Anna Danilina had dropped her first set, 6-4, losing her serve in the final game, but roared back to take the second, 6-1.

Josie Kuhlman lost her match on court two to Melissa Lord, 6-4, 7-5, and Stanford was on the board with a ton of momentum in its favor.

Neel had lost her first set to senior Taylor Davidson, a player UF head coach Roland Thornqvist called one of the greatest competitors in college tennis. The first three games of the second set were breaks, as Neel finally ended with the trend by holding for 3-1. She earned another break, before Davidson won the next two games. Neel then held and earned one last break to win the second, 6-3, and force a deciding third.

Neel started strong in the third and jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

At 15-15 in the fourth game, Davidson requested a medical timeout. When play resumed, the Cardinal senior won seven of the next nine points and was serving down 3-2, trying to get the third back on-serve.

Neel, however, fought off two game points and earned the huge break for 4-2 and went to the baseline confidently, as she lost just one point off her serve for a 5-2 lead.

On her second championship point opportunity, Neel watched Davidson’s ground stroke sail wide as she completed the 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 clinching victory and was rushed by her teammates.

Quickie Postmatch Quotes
FLORIDA HEAD COACH ROLAND THORNQVIST

*        On winning the national championship…

*        “What can I say? It was one of those moments, you know, this team has worked so hard all year, from when we met in August to now. We’ve talked about playing on stages like this, what to expect, we trained for, try to visualize what it would be like when you get close to the line, and what characteristics you have to have in order to really get through. I think what you saw today was a combination of training and a lot of effort, and I am really proud of them. I mean, they were crucial on doubles today on the big stage, and then at the end, it looked like we were going to win in an hour and a half into singles, then Stanford, the class that they are, they found a way to get in there and make it super interesting, and our freshman came through again. But, what a team effort! I think we played fantastic tennis, from start to finish as we arrived here. I am really happy with our effort and attitudes, and you know, I am really proud of the way this team represents the University of Florida, it’s a first-class bunch.”

FLORIDA FRESHMAN INGRID NEEL

*        On clinching today’s match…

*        “Well if you would have told me that I would clinch the match today, I would have said you were wrong, and then if you told me that when the team was up three love today, I would have said you were crazy. So, I didn’t think it would come down to me, but I just kept on fighting. I knew that Stanford could turn it around, but I just couldn’t believe I was the one to finish it. It just means so much, and the fact that I did it at the Indoors really helped me today, as well. I could not have done it without an incredible team, and the coaching that I had.”

FLORIDA SENIOR KOURTNEY KEEGAN

*        On winning the national championship…

*        “It is a great feeling! Our goal from the beginning of the year was to not only get to the finish line, but to cross the finish line. I think we for sure did that. There is no greater feeling than doing it with all of your best friends. I think it is a good way to end the year, and to end my career at Florida.”

STANFORD HEAD COACH LELE FOROOD

*        On today’s match…

*        “Well they came out very strong in the doubles with a lot of power so that created a little bit of a tough road when you have to find four. They started pretty well in a lot of the singles matches and we made a nice push to get back in it. We won some second sets and I was really happy for Melissa (Lord) to get a win before we ran out of good fortune. They’re a very strong team and their seniors played phenomenally. Our team fought hard and we were fighting back in a couple matches but we just couldn’t find that one extra.”
STANFORD PLAYER MELISSA LORD

*        On winner her singles match…

*        “It was a tough match and she (Josie Kuhlman) played really well. I think at this tournament it’s fun playing alongside your teammates. It’s your last match out there so you give it your all. I think that’s what worked for me.”

Tuesday’s win …

*        was Florida’s seventh NCAA title and its first since 2012 which was also played in Athens.

*        was UF head coach Roland Thornqvist’s fourth national championship.

*        was the first team national championship for the Gator athletics program during the 2016-17 academic year.

*        marked the 37th national championship in UF athletics history and the first since 2016 when the men’s outdoor track & field team captured the title.

*        Was the first-ever NCAA team title for new UF athletics director Scott Stricklin.

Doubling Their Fun

*        The Gators won the doubles point for the 28th time this season, while Stanford lost it for the sixth time.

*        Entering Tuesday’s NCAA Final, Florida was 26-1 when winning the initial point and the Cardinal was 3-2 when losing it.

*        Anna Danilina and Ingrid Neel finished their 6-2 win against #39 Emily Arbuthnott and Taylor Davidson just a minute before No. 45 Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock topped Caroline Lampl and Emma Higuchi, 6-1, for the clinching doubles-point win.

*        Kuhlman and Woolcock, who played their final collegiate match together, finished ended the season with a team-best 32-7 overall record – 24-3 in dual matches, as well as a 47-11 overall career mark and 35-6 in dual action.

*        Danilina and Neel, who will compete in the NCAA Doubles Championships beginning Thursday, cap the dual match season with a 21-3 record.

Gators in the NCAA Finals

*        Florida reached the NCAA Finals for the 14th time in program history and for the first time since 2012, when the Gators blanked UCLA, 4-0, in Athens, Ga.

*        Florida now fields a 7-7 all-time record in the NCAA Finals, including a 4-2 record under Head Coach Roland Thornqvist.

*        The Gators have won the NCAA Championship seven times: 1992, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2011, 2012 and 2017

Florida’s Road to the Championship

*        The Gators’ path to the semifinal round included wins against Massachusetts (4-0), Miami (4-1), Texas A&M (4-0), Oklahoma State (4-1), Vanderbilt (4-2) and Stanford (4-1).

Florida vs. Stanford

*        Stanford still leads the all-time series, 21-11, which includes a commanding 11-4 record in NCAA action.

*        Last Meeting: Florida captured the 4-1 regular-season win on February 19 in Gainesville.

*        Last NCAA Meeting: The Cardinal knocked the Gators out of the 2016 Championships, 4-3, in the round of 16.

*        NCAA Meetings: Tuesday’s match marked the 10th time Florida and Stanford have squared off in the NCAA Final, the last coming in 2012 in Athens, where the Gators took the 4-3 thriller. The Cardinal still lead those NCAA Finals meetings, 6-4.

*        Thrillers! Prior to Tuesday’s final, each of the last four – and five of the last six – NCAA meetings between the two teams has been a 4-3 decision.

What’s Next? More Tennis!

*        Six members of the Florida women’s tennis team were selected to compete in the NCAA Singles and or Doubles Championships, May 24-29 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia, after the conclusion of the team championship, which runs from May 19-23. The University of Georgia will serve as host.
Five Gators selected to the 64-player singles draw:

*        Anna Danilina

*        Kourtney Keegan

*        Josie Kuhlman

*        Ingrid Neel

*        Belinda Woolcock
Two Gator pairs and one tandem alternate selected to the 32-team doubles draw:

*        Anna Danilina & Ingrid Neel

*        Brooke Austin & Kourtney Keegan

*        No. 6 alternate: Josie Kuhlman & Belinda Woolcock

Gators at a Glance

*        The Gators won eight of their last 10 matches to end the season.

*        The Gators won the doubles point in 27 of 32 matches.

*        UF improved to 26-1 when winning the doubles point this year. The only loss was in the 4-3 SEC Tournament Final loss at No. 2 Vanderbilt.

*        The Gators were 2-2 when losing the doubles point, with wins coming against Michigan on Feb. 10 at the National Team Indoors and versus Oklahoma State on February 17 in Gainesville.

*        Two of the Gator’s three losses were against Vanderbilt.

Florida at the NCAA Championships

*        The Gators sport an all-time NCAA record of 113-28, including a 19-0 record in the round of 64, an 18-1 mark in the round of 32, a 30-4 record in the round of 16, a 25-5 leger in the quarterfinals, a 14-11 record in the semifinals and now a 7-7 record in the finals.

*        The Gators have won seven NCAA team titles: 1992, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2011, 2012 and 2017

*        UF has advanced to at least the NCAA semifinals 25 times in the last 31 years (including 2017).

Gators as the No. 1 Seed

*        This is the 14th time and the second overall season the Gators are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championships.

*        UF was the top seed last year and dropped a 4-3 thriller to eventual champion Stanford in the round of 16.

*        Three of UF’s seven NCAA titles have come when the Gators were the No. 1 seed (1992, 1996 and 2017).

*        Four of UF’s seven NCAA championships have come when the Gators were the No. 2 seed (1998, 2003, 2011, 2012)

*        UF has been a top-five seed in 28 of its 31 overall NCAA appearances since seeding began with the 1987 event.

Doubling their Pleasure

*        The doubles team of Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock capped their pairing with a 23-3 dual match record at the No. 3 position (24-3 at all positions), which is the most in a season by a Gator pair at the three spot in program history.

*        Three other tandems have won 21 times on court three

Individual Gator News (career notes)

*        Kourtney Keegan has won 115 career doubles matches, a total that is fifth all-time in UF history.

*        Belinda Woolcock has won 108 career singles matches – one of 29 Gators who have eclipsed the century mark for singles victories and the only current Gator.

*        Keegan has won 97 career singles matches

Florida’s National Title Teams

SPORT

YEAR

NATIONAL TITLES

2017

NCAA Championships

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

2016

NCAA Championships

Softball

2015

NCAA Championships

Women’s Gymnastics

2015

NCAA Championships

Softball

2014

NCAA Championships

Women’s Gymnastics

2014

NCAA Championships

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

2013

NCAA Championships

Women’s Gymnastics

2013

NCAA Championships

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

2012

NCAA Championships

Women’s Tennis

2012

NCAA Championships

Men’s Indoor Track & Field

2012

NCAA Championships

Women’s Tennis

2011

NCAA Championships

Men’s Indoor Track & Field

2011

NCAA Championships

Women’s Swimming

2010

NCAA Championships

Men’s Indoor Track & Field

2010

NCAA Championships

Football

2008

BCS/Associated Press

Men’s Basketball

2007

NCAA Championships

Men’s Basketball

2006

NCAA Championships

Football

2006

BCS/Associated Press

Women’s Tennis

2003

NCAA Championships

Men’s Golf

2001

NCAA Championships

Women’s Tennis

1998

NCAA Championships

Soccer

1998

NCAA Championships

Women’s Tennis

1996

NCAA Championships

Football

1996

Associated Press/Coaches’

Men’s Golf

1993

NCAA Championships

Women’s Indoor Track

1992

NCAA Championships

Women’s Tennis

1992

NCAA Championships

Women’s Golf

1986

NCAA Championships

Women’s Golf

1985

NCAA Championships

Men’s Swimming

1984

NCAA Championships

Men’s Swimming

1983

NCAA Championships

Gymnastics

1982

AIAW Nationals

Women’s Swimming

1982

NCAA Championships

Women’s Swimming

1979

AIAW Nationals

Men’s Golf

1973

NCAA Championships

Men’s Golf

1968

NCAA Championships

NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships – Finals
Dan Magill Tennis Complex * Athens, Ga.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Team Results
[1] Florida def. [7] Stanford, 4-1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1,3*)
1. #11 Anna Danilina/Ingrid Neel (Florida) def. #39 Emily Arbuthnott /Taylor Davidson (Stanford), 6-2
2 .#20 Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (Florida) vs. #49 Melissa Lord /Caroline Doyle (Stanford), 3-4 DNF
3. #45 Josie Kuhlman/Belinda Woolcock (Florida) def. Caroline Lampl/Emma Higuchi (Stanford), 6-1*

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 1, 2, 3*)
1. #6 Belinda Woolcock (FLORIDA) def. #38 Caroline Doyle (STANFORD), 6-1, 6-3
2. #28 Melissa Lord (STANFORD) def. #23 Josie Kuhlman (FLORIDA), 6-4, 7-5
3. #31 Ingrid Neel (FLORIDA) def. #54 Taylor Davidson (STANFORD), 5-7, 6-3, 6-2*
4. #44 Anna Danilina (FLORIDA) vs. #90 Caroline Lampl (STANFORD), 4-6, 6-1, 5-4, DNF
5. Emily Arbuthnott (STANFORD) vs. Brooke Austin (FLORIDA), 2-6, 7-5, 4-2, DNF
6. #59 Kourtney Keegan (FLORIDA) def. Emma Higuchi (STANFORD), 6-0, 6-0
Records: Florida 29-3; Stanford 26-3

WOMEN’S NCAA ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

No. 1 Doubles: Anna Danilina/Ingrid Neel (Florida)

No. 2 Doubles: Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (Florida)

No. 3 Doubles: Josie Kuhlman/Belinda Woolcock (Florida)

No. 1 Singles: Belinda Woolcock (Florida)

No. 2 Singles: Melissa Lord (Stanford)

No. 3 Singles: Taylor Davidson (Stanford)

No. 4 Singles: Anna Danilina (Florida)

No. 5 Singles: Emily Arbuthnott (Stanford)

No. 6 Singles: Kourtney Keegan (Florida)

Most Outstanding Player: Belinda Woolcock (Florida)

Links of Note

*        That Championship moment<http://youtu.be/UvoYACM7hq0>!

*        Kourtney Keegan’s match point<http://youtu.be/7QIjCG7zNbE>

*        Roland Thornqvist addressing the crowd<http://youtu.be/Y7CnMxqVYKs> during the trophy presentation

*        NCAA Team Trophy Presentation<http://youtu.be/H4GuYYL3hbw>

*        The trophy kiss<http://youtu.be/v_cRjgQ2MVM>

*        Postmatch press conference, part 1 of 2<http://youtu.be/ARIU_LAzwvo>

*        Postmatch press conference, part 2 of 2<http://youtu.be/JD_I8vXy-iA>

*        Photo Gallery – coming soon!

*        Prematch HYPE video<http://youtu.be/w_xAgt2w5mU>

Gator Pronunciations for this release

*        Anna Danilina: ON-nah don-uh-LEE-nah

*        Josie Kuhlman: COOL-mun

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.