The University of Florida women’s tennis team plays Clemson in the NCAA Championships Round of 16 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford University on Friday beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
Florida (27-1) received the No. 2 overall seed in the 2011 NCAA Championships and is making its 28th appearance in the round of 16 in the 30-year history of the event.
The Gators defeated South Carolina State, 4-0, and South Carolina, 4-0, to advance to Stanford, Calif., for the round of 16 and the remainder of the tournament.
Clemson (21-10) defeated Wichita State, 4-0, and Arkansas, 4-2, to reach the round of 16 for the fifth consecutive season.
Friday will be the second meeting this year between Florida and 15th-seeded Clemson. The Gators claimed the tight 4-0 decision against the Tigers in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships on Feb. 19. Florida is 20-0 all-time against Clemson, but Friday will be the first-ever NCAA match-up.
“We are facing a Clemson team that we played during the National Team Indoors, but we’ll have different lineups at the numbers 3 through six singles positions, as well as all three doubles spots,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I’m happy about that because they hung in there with us at the Indoors at a couple of spots. We’ll see some different pairings and hopefully that will be to our advantage.”
Thornqvist noted the importance of the doubles play, in particular, the team of Alex Cercone and Allie Will. He said despite the fact they don’t get to complete their matches because other doubles teams beat their matches end faster, he likes their communication the adjustments they make while playing.
Cercone and Will first paired together for the March 1st dual match against Florida State and have been a tandem since, compiling an 11-0 record, with all matches coming at the number one position.
They’ll face stiff competition from Clemson’s duo of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong, who are the sixth-ranked team in the country. Florida’s Sofie Oyen and Will became the third Gator pair to win the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships doubles title, as they won a hard-fought three-setter on November 7th at the USTA-Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., defeating Bek and Wong, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Clemson is 15-0 this year when winning the doubles point, while Florida is 26-0.
“They will be greatly challenged by Clemson’s number one doubles team, which I think could be the best team in the country. We played outstanding when we beat them with a different team in the National Indoor Championships in November. We certainly will be challenged there,” Thornqvist noted.
Will also plays the number one singles position for the Gators, where she is 17-1 this season and carries a 13-match winning streak into Friday’s contest against Bek.
Sophomore Lauren Embree has won all 21 singles matches she has played this season, a run tied for the 10th-longest in program history. Embree, who is the ITA Southeast Region Player to Watch winner, secures the number two singles and doubles spots in UF’s lineup.
Junior Joanna Mather, the only upperclassman in the Gator’s lineup, has won a combined 148 singles and doubles matches during her collegiate career, with a 28-7 record in singles and doubles this season.
All three Florida freshmen sport a double-figure singles win streak into the NCAA Round of 16, with Olivia Janowicz holding a 17-match run, while Sofie Oyen and Alex Cercone has won 10 straight, respectively.