In the regular season-finale Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex, the Florida women’s tennis team defeated the No. 38 South Carolina Gamecocks 7-0 to earn the SEC title outright.
The top-ranked Gators (22-1, 11-0 SEC) stepped up in doubles play with sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen on court one winning the first 8-game pro set, 8-3 against Dijana Stojic and Adriana Pereria.
Florida freshman Alex Cercone and sophomore Allie Will finished second facing the 32nd-ranked pair Anya Morgina and Dominika Kanakova, winning their set 8-4, and clinching the doubles point for the Gators.
UF freshman Olivia Janowicz and junior Joanna Mather struggled to finish their match, and came up short 4-8 to Milijana Jocic and Katerina Popova.
Both teams utilized the Australian doubles method in order for the net player to poach the ball.
The wind was a factor in the game, but Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist, reflected on what Florida men’s head golf coach Buddy Alexander said to his team during the windy first round of the SEC championships.
Alexander said, “When you play in weather like that you’re never as bad as you think you are.”
“That’s the same in tennis,” Thornqvist said. “When the winds kick up you’re going to make some mistakes and it’s all about how you handle those mistakes. I thought we did a great job today.”
“We lost at [the position] three doubles, but I thought we got out played, frankly, so it’s easier to take. I think we’re still on track at three doubles. South Carolina played a very, very good match there and you have to give them credit for that. One doubles and two doubles were very clean,” Thornqvist said.
Embree enjoyed playing with her doubles partner Oyen.
“She keeps me focused and loose and we just have a lot of fun together,” Embree said.
The team kept the winning streak up during singles play.
Embree got off to a strong start, blowing out her opponent, Stojic, 6-0 in the first set. Stojic came back more aggressively during the second set, but Embree pulled through 6-3 giving the Gators a point.
Will didn’t struggle, beating No. 29 Morgina 6-2 in the first set and 6-1 in the second set.
Oyen rallied back and forth with Popova in the first set, but ended up pulling through 6-4. Oyen had no trouble in the second set. She did not let Popova win any games finishing 6-0.
Mather won 6-2 in both sets against Kanakova and scored the dual match victory on court four.
Cercone and Janowicz only finished their first sets against their opponents, Pereria and Jocic respectively. Both won, Janowicz in a 7-6 tiebreaker and Cercone 6-4.
“I thought we were very strong and disciplined in singles,” Thornqvist said.
With the SEC title outright at stake, Thornqvist was never worried about motivation.
“I think everybody really loves to compete, they love to win,” he said.
The win was the Gators’ 25th consecutive regular-season victory against SEC teams.
Thornqvist is proud that his team has come out to play and win 11-straight times in SEC matches.
“You can’t take winning for granted. It’s very important that we celebrate it, and I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked really hard all year long. Every day, these guys come to work and it’s a pleasure to be around them,” Thornqvist said.
Saturday’s match capped Florida’s regular-season, as the Gators extended their impressive home regular-season win streak to 102 in a row, while being the team’s 93rd consecutive home victory.
After earning the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, Florida will continue to play in the SEC tournament in Tennessee next week.
#38 South Carolina at #1 Florida
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
Sat., April 16, 2011
Final Score: Florida 7, South Carolina 0
1. #8 Allie Will/#8 Alex Cercone, UF d. #32 Anya Morgina/#32 Dominika Kanakova, SC, 8-4*
2. #43 Lauren Embree/#43 Sofie Oyen, UF d. Dijana Stojic/Josefin Andersson, SC, 8-3
3. Miljana Jocic/ Katerina Popova, SC d. Olivia Janowicz/Joanna Mather, UF, 8-4
Order of Finish: 2, 1*, 3
1. #7 Allie Will, UF d. #29 Anya Morgina, SC, 6-1, 6-1
2. #20 Lauren Embree, UF d. #82 Dijana Stojic, SC, 6-0, 6-3
3. #104 Sofie Oyen, UF d. #108 Katerina Popova, SC, 6-4, 6-0
4. #37 Joanna Mather, UF d. Dominika Kanakova, SC, 6-2, 6-2*
5. #51 Alex Cercone, UF d. Miljana Jocic, SC, 6-4, 3-2 default
6. #49 Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Madeleine Saari-Bystrom, SC, 7-6 (2), 0-1 default
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 4*, 2, 5, 6