Special report on the Florida Gators women’s tennis team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a regular-season weekend that was one of the most challenging and competitive in recent memory for the Florida women’s tennis team, the Gators came through it with a pair of victories and their nation’s-best home winning streak intact.
Top-ranked Florida played host to No. 6 Oklahoma State, the 2016 NCAA runner-up, on Saturday evening and earned a 4-2 victory.
On Sunday, the task was even more stiff, as No. 5 Sanford, the reigning NCAA Champion, visited the Ring Tennis Complex.
The Gators rose to the challenge and captured the hard-fought 4-1 victory against the Cardinal and extended their home win streak to 162 consecutive wins. It is the nation’s longest active home win streak of any NCAA Division I team in any sport.
Florida opened the match between the two national rivals by capturing the doubles point with wins on courts one and three.
While taking the 1-0 lead did bring some breathing room to the orange and blue, they certainly weren’t taking it for granted. The last time these two teams met, the Gators won the doubles point, but the Cardinal took the 4-3 victory in the 2016 NCAA Round of 16 en route to winning the NCAA title.
The clinching match in last year’s meeting was the same match-up in this season’s regular-season bout, pitting Florida’s Belinda Woolcock against Taylor Davidson. The Cardinal came away with the 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 outcome last season. This time, it Woolcock’s turn to shine, as she rallied after dropping the first set to post a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory in two hours and eight minutes to secure the dual match win.
Woolcock’s heroics were set up by wins from Ingrid Neel and Brooke Austin.
Neel, a freshman, was the first off the court with an impressive 6-1, 6-3 victory on at the No. 2 position.
Stanford got on the board with a win on court No. 6, but Austin showed her grit and also rallied for a tough, three-set victory, 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, that gave the Gators a 3-1 lead.
UF Head Coach Roland Thornqvist:
On the thrilling win:
“There’s something about these match-ups, these Florida-Stanford match-ups. They’ve gotten us on a couple of easy ones at their place. Their place is as tough of a place as ours is to play, but when you play them here, our fans help us. Physically, we were dominant today. When you look at the scoreboard in the last 30 minutes, I just felt like we were different physically. I told them in the locker room that it’s a good feeling knowing that you’re the strongest team because we really pride ourselves on that.
In doubles, we played with a lot more determination (than Saturday’s match against Oklahoma State). We made returns today and poached when we were supposed to. Overall, this was just a great, great win over a super team.”
On Brooke Austin’s effort:
“We’ve seen this for a couple years now, this kid – she can have a lead, lose the lead and she looks like she’s losing and then she finds a lifeline. You can’t give that kid an inch. The thing with Brooke is that when she abandons the strike, she’s not as good a player. On the sideline you have to continue to tell her. She’s an unbelievable ball striker when she’s feeling it. She had it today against a tough competitor. I’m extremely happy for her. I’m just proud of her. She’s getting better every week.”
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 5 Stanford
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex * Gainesville, Fla.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Final Score: Florida 4, Stanford 1
Doubles (order of finish: 3, 1)
1. Brooke Austin/Kourtney Keegan (18), UF d. Emily Arbuthnott/Taylor Davidson, SU, 6-3*
2. Anna Danilina/Ingrid Neel (22), UF vs. Caroline Doyle/Melissa Lord (36), SU – 4-4 DNF
3. Josie Kuhlman/Belinda Woolcock (17), UF d. Emma Higuchi/Caroline Lampl, SU 6-1
Singles (order of finish: 2, 6, 4, 1*)
1. Belinda Woolcock (40), UF d. Taylor Davidson, SU 4-6, 6-2, 6-0*
2. Ingrid Neel (45), UF d. Caroline Doyle (38), SU, 6-1, 6-3
3. Anna Danilina (23), UF vs. Melissa Lord (13), SU – 7-5, 3-6, 4-1 DNF
4. Brooke Austin d. Caroline Lampl (75), SU 2-6, 6-1, 7-5
5. Josie Kuhlman (19), UF vs. Emily Arbuthnott (59), SU – 7-6, 5-4
6. Emma Higuchi, SU d. Spencer Liang (41), UF 6-2, 6-1
Records: Florida 9-0, Stanford 4-1
Gator Pronunciations for this Releasee
* Anna Danilina: ON-nah don-uh-LEE-nah
What’s Next for the Gators
* When, Where, Who: Friday, March 3 at LSU (5 p.m. ET); Sunday, March 5 at Texas A&M (12 Noon ET)
* What: This marks the Southeastern Conference season-opening weekend for the Gators, who are the defending league champions.