The second-seeded University of Florida women’s tennis team overwhelmed South Carolina State, 4-0, in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships held at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex on Friday.
The Gators (22-1), who improved to 14-0 all-time in NCAA Round of 64 matches, set the tone from the start of doubles play where Florida won 24 of the 25 games played, posting scores of 8-1, 8-0 and 8-0 to earn the 1-0 lead in the team scoring 31 minutes into the match.
South Carolina State (19-1), which has lost to Florida 4-0 in the NCAA first round each of the last three years, came out stronger on the singles courts, but the Gators proved to be too much, as senior Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) won her 15th consecutive singles match and collected the 101st victory of her career with a 6-0, 6-0 decision against Victoria Khatcei on court three. The win also was Mather’s team-leading 30th of the year. Mather has helped the Gators to a 53-0 all-time home record at the Ring Tennis Complex, where Florida has won 106 consecutive matches.
Florida plays Washington State (19-6) in the NCAA Second Round on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Cougars defeated Florida State, 4-3, to advance to the second round for the second time in program history and the first time since 2001. Saturday will be the first meeting between the Gators and Cougars.
Junior Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) gave Florida a 3-0 lead after she tallied her third double-bagel win of the season and captured her team-leading 17th straight singles victory.
Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) polished off the opening round win with a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Laura Bosneag on court four, where the Bulldog junior held serve on her first trip to the baseline before the Gator sophomore won the final 11 games to clinch the team victory.
“I thought we played very well,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I thought we played very well in doubles, made a lot of first serves, played aggressively when we needed to, made pretty much every single return. If you make serves and returns and approach when you’re supposed to you’re going to be successful a majority of the time when you play doubles. I thought we continued that good play in singles too. I was very happy from start to finish today. We got it done fairly quickly. We’re going to hydrate and rest and then look forward to tomorrow.”
Included among the wins was the doubles victory by the Gator tandem of Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Mather, which earned its 21st consecutive decision, a run tied for the fourth longest in program history.
Courtesy UF Communications