Florida Gators women’s tennis advances to the Final Four

Special report on the Florida Gators women’s tennis team:

ATHENS, Ga. – Top-seeded Florida won the doubles point for the 25th time this season and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships Final Four for the 25th time in program history.

The Gators carried that momentum of winning the initial team point and knocked off ninth-seeded Oklahoma State, 4-1, in the NCAA Quarterfinals played at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex Sunday afternoon.

Sunday’s match was the second time this season the two programs squared off, with Florida (27-3) capturing the 4-2 decision in Gainesville back on February 17. In that match, the Cowgirls won the doubles point and gave the Gators all they could handle in singles action.

Both teams had changes in their lineup from the regular-season match up, but the one spot that remained the same was at No. 3 doubles, where the Gator’s Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock reversed their earlier result against Katarina Adamovic and Viktoriya Lushkova – a 7-6 loss – and punched in a 6-4 victory for the clinching doubles-point decision.

Florida returned to the singles court and won four first sets, with Brooke Austin, Kuhlman and Anna Danilina each closing out straight-set wins to send the Gators to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time since 2014.

The Gator’s path to the semifinal round has included wins against Massachusetts (4-0), Miami (4-1), Texas A&M (4-0) and Oklahoma State (4-1).

What’s Next for the Gators

  • Who: #1 Seed Florida (27-3) vs. #4 Seed Vanderbilt (24-5)
  • When: Monday, May 22 * 2 pm ET (TIME CHANGE!!!)
  • Where: Dan Magill Tennis Complex * Athens, Ga.
  • What: 2017 NCAA SEMIFINALS
  • Note: Two of the Gator’s three losses have been against Vanderbilt, most recently the 4-3 setback at the SEC Tournament final. The Commodores have won five of the last six meetings against the Gators.

Doubling their Fun

  • The Gators won the doubles point for the 25th time in 30 matches.
  • UF improved to 24-1 when winning the doubles point this year.
  • Oklahoma State was one of four teams that won the doubles point against the Gators this year.
  • UF’s Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan set the tone with their impressive 26-minute win on court two that gave the Gators the early momentum.
  • Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock clinched the doubles point with a break in the final game, losing just one point. The win was their 22nd dual match victory at the No. 3 position set a new program record for wins at the three spot in a season. Three other tandems have won 21 times on court three.

Danilina Loves NCAA Dancing

  • Anna Danilina‘s 6-4, 6-4 win provided the clinching dual match victory, as she improved to 4-0 during the 2017 NCAA Championships.
  • Danilina recovered from an early break and got the first set back on-serve. It wasn’t until the ninth game for another break and it was Danilina who took it and then served out for the first set.
  • She then served out at love, beginning the final game of the match with an ace.

Cool as Kuhlman

  • Junior Josie Kuhlman lost her serve to begin her match against Katarina Adamovic, but she roared right back winning six straight to take the first set, closing it with an ace.
  • Adamovic began the second holding serve, but Kuhlman proved too much, as she again won six consecutive games, breaking in the final one to post the 6-1, 6-1 victory, secure her 30th win of the season and give Florida a 3-0 lead.

Austin Powers for the First Win

  • Riding the momentum of her impressive doubles win, Brooke Austin carried it onto the singles court where she needed 63 minutes for a 6-2, 6-3 win against Katarina Stresnakova.
  • The final three games of the first set reached no-ad duce and Austin won each of those pressure points.
  • In the second set, Austin won the final three games, as well, serving out for the Gator’s first singles win of the match.

Rain, Rain, Go Away – and it did!

  • What seemed like an all-day rain delay, Florida’s match only started 30 minutes after the original start time of 4 p.m. and was played outside.
  • With rain in the Athens area, officials tried to find the open patches of sunshine with every intention of playing all the matches outside.
  • The two quarterfinal matches in session one finally had to begin inside – with one played in Atlanta. Shortly after those matches got underway, the sun broke through and Georgia officials immediately got to work on drying the outdoor courts for session two matches.

Gators vs. Cowgirls: The Series

  • The Gators improved to 10-0 all-time against the Cowgirls, including a 4-0 record in NCAA Championships action.
  • Last Meeting: The Gators played and defeated Oklahoma State in Gainesville, 4-2, on Friday, February 17.
  • Of Note: OSU is one of four schools that won the doubles point against the Gators (Michigan, Georgia and Vanderbilt the others). Of the four times UF lost the doubles point, it is one of two matches that UF won.

Quickie Quotes from the Court
On today’s match…

  • “We played really well, this is a fantastic Oklahoma State team and I have the utmost respect for that program and what Chris Young has done with them. Their players are disciplined and challenging, and they know how to play and compete well. They really brought the best out of us today as we played really, really well.”
  • Watch Coach Thornqvist’s complete postmatch presser

On today’s match…

  • “The NCAA tournament is always different, every single time we play them they are fighting and they are a really, really good team. I think we just handled the tough ones in the end of sets better.”
  • Watch Danilina’s complete postmatch presser

On advancing to the Final Four…

  • “This is very exciting because my class has never advanced to the Final Four so this is a first for us. The senior class went their freshman year, so this is really exciting that we get to experience this with them. We played really well today and it was an exciting match.”
  • Watch Austin’s complete postmatch presser

On today’s match…

  • “For us overall, it was a good season. To get back here again and to advance one round was great. I have to give Florida a lot of credit, they played excellent tennis today. It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to give our best match because we would have liked to go out with us playing a little bit better tennis, but a lot of that is credit to Florida. They are an exceptional team and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they went on to win it all. You always enjoy competing against the best. Our girls gave it all they had this entire season and competed like champions. Today, even not playing well, I still thought we competed hard and dug deep. I am real­ly proud of those girls and proud of our seniors who have really put us on a different level as a program while they’ve been here.”

Gators at a Glance

  • The Gators have won six of their last eight matches.
  • The Gators have won the doubles point in 25 of 30 matches.
  • UF improved to 24-1 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 are 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 have been against Vanderbilt.

Florida in the Quarterfinals

  • The Gators made their 31st appearance in the NCAA quarterfinal round.
  • The team’s last trip to the quarterfinals came in 2015 when Florida dropped a thrilling 4-3 decision to eventual champion Vanderbilt.
  • The Gators sport a 25-5 all-time record in NCAA Quarterfinal matches.

Florida at the NCAA Championships

  • The Gators sport an all-time NCAA record of 111-28, 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 and a 25-5 ledger in the quarterfinals.
  • UF has advanced to at least the NCAA semifinals 25 times in the last 31 years.

Individual Gator News (this season)

  • Anna Danilina has won 12 straight singles matches – the longest active streak by a Gator – and is 4-0 in the 2017 NCAA Championships.
  • Danilina has won a team-leading 33 singles matches
  • The doubles team of Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock sport a 22-3 dual match record at the No. 3 position (23-3 at all positions) and became the winningest 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 114 career doubles matches, a total that moved her into a tie for fifth-most in UF history.
  • Belinda Woolcock has won 106 career singles matches – one of 29 Gators who have eclipsed the century mark for singles victories and the only current Gator.
  • Keegan has won 96 career singles matches
  • Junior Josie Kuhlman has won 91 career singles matches

NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships – Quarterfinals
Dan Magill Tennis Complex * Athens, Ga.
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Team Results
[1] Florida d. [9] Oklahoma State, 4-1
[4] Vanderbilt d. [12] Pepperdine, 4-2
[3] Ohio State d. [6] Texas Tech, 4-0
[7] Stanford d. [2] North Carolina, 4-2

Final Score: Florida def. Oklahoma State, 4-1

Doubles (Order of finish: 2,3)
1. #11 Anna Danilina/Ingrid Neel (UF) vs. #13 Vladica Babic/Carla Tur Mari (Oklahoma State), 5-6
2.#20 Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (UF) def. #48 Aliona Bolsova/Katie Stresnakova (Oklahoma State), 6-2
3.#45 Josie Kuhlman/Belina Woolcock (UF) def. #70 Katarina Adamovic/Viktoriya Lushkova (Oklahoma State), 6-4

Singles (Order of finish: 5,2,3,4)
1. #6 Belinda Woolcock (UF) vs. #8 Viktoriya Lushkova (Oklahoma State), 2-6, 5-2 DNF
2. #23 Josie Kuhlman (UF) def. Katarina Adamovic (Oklahoma State), 6-1, 6-1
3. #73 Aliona Bolsova (OKLAHOMA STATE) def. #31 Ingrid Neel (UF), 7-5, 6-3
4. #44 Anna Danilina (UF) def. #63 Vladica Babic (Oklahoma State), 6-4, 6-4
5. Brooke Austin (UF) def. Katarina Stresnakova (Oklahoma State), 6-2, 6-3
6. #59 Kourtney Keegan (UF) vs. Lena Ruppert (Oklahoma State), 6-2, 5-7 DNF
RECORDS: Florida 27-3; Oklahoma State 25-6

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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.