Memo to women’s tennis teams coming to play Florida in the Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex: Prepare to go home a loser.
For the second time over the weekend, the No. 23 Gators scored a major upset, beating No. 15 Tennessee, 5-2. The victory comes less than two days after Florida stunned No. 2 Georgia, 4-3.
The two victories extended Florida’s home winning streak to 72 and the Gators improved to 143-1 all-time at home against SEC foes. Florida (9-5, 3-1 SEC) also maintained its perfect mark against Tennessee, improving to 33-0.
The loss was the first for Tennessee (9-2, 3-1 SEC) and created an early log jam with Florida, Georgia and Tennessee at the top of the East Division standings.
“Tennessee is a team that is not going to go away, so if you don’t close them out they are going to hang around and hang around,” Florida coach Roland Thornqvist said. “You have to be mentally tough at the end of a match. We pride ourselves about how we handle ourselves at the end of sets and at the end of a match, and we had some spectacular results there today.”
On Sunday, Florida halted Tennessee’s run of six consecutive matches winning the doubles point, as the Gators captured victories on the No. 1 and No. 2 courts. The Gators got victories from the No. 1 doubles team of Jessica Alexander and Anastasia Revzina, who beat their Tennessee foes, 8-6, and at No. 2 where Marrit Boonstra and Joanna Mather scored an 8-1 victory.
Florida then followed with hard-fought singles wins at the top four positions en route to the victory. Each of the last three singles matches on court needed more than two hours to complete, with the decision on court No. 1 taking two hours and 44 minutes.
Alexander earned the first singles win for the Gators, topping Rosalia Alda, 7-5, 6-2. Shortly after Alexander’s win, Revzina came through with a big victory as she took down Natalie Pluskota, 6-4, 6-1.
It took over 30 more minutes for the fourth singles match would end as Tennessee’s Jennifer Meredith took a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory from Florida’s Barbara Pinterova.
A half hour later, Mather rallied for a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1 victory over Samantha Orlin to clinch the match for the Gators. Boonstra overcame illness and gutted out a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Caitlin Whorishkey in two hours and 44 minutes.
“I wasn’t feeling 100 percent today, but after the first set, I started checking the scores of my teammates and knew I had to win for the team,” Boonstra said. “I found a way to get it done. I’m so proud of our team for how we played this weekend.”
Florida is off until March 27 when it travels to Mississippi.
FLORIDA 5, TENNESSEE 2
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex, Gainesville
1. Jessica Alexander/Anastasia Revzina (F) def. Natalie Pulskota/Caitlin Whorishey, 8-6.
2. Marrit Boonstra/Joanna Mather (F) def. Samantha Orlin/Maria Sorbello, 8-1.
3. Rosalia Alda/Zsofia Zubor (T) def. Barbara Pinterova/Lauren Wolken, 8-1.
Florida wins doubles point, 2-1.
1. Marrit Boonstra (F) def. Caitlin Whorishkey, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
2. Anastasia Revzina (F) def. Natalie Pluskota, 6-4, 6-1.
3. Joanna Mather (F) def. Samantha Orlin, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1.
4. Jessica Alexander (F) def. Rosalia Alda, 7-5, 6-2.
5. Jennifer Meredith (T) def. Barbara Pinterova, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
6. Zsofia Zubor (T) def. Lauren Wolken, 6-1. 6-0.
MEN’S GOLF: The Florida men’s golf team shot a one-over 289 Sunday to move up one spot and finish fourth at the 2009 Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship in Las Vegas.
“It was another solid day,” said Florida coach Buddy Alexander. “We had a lot of guys around par and were able to pick up a little ground. This was a pretty decent event for us. I felt like we played better than we did in Puerto Rico so we’re making progress.”
The Gators had a three-day total of 872 (+8) and were led by senior Billy Horschel, who finished in a tie for sixth. Horschel played all three rounds at or under par, carding a 71 (-1) in the third round. He finished with a 54-hole total of 214 (-2).
After posting his first score under par for the tournament, junior Tim McKenney moved up the board to earn a share of 12th place at two-over 218. McKenney birdied the 18th hole Sunday for a final-round 71.
Senior Will Strickler struggled on the final day, shooting a five-over 77, but was solid in the opening rounds and earned a share of 19th place at five-over 221.
Senior Toby Ragland had his best round of the tournament Sunday, shooting even-par 72 to finish at eight-over par 224 and in a tie for 29th. Freshman Max Kieffer shot a final round 75 (+3) and had a total of 228 (+12), earning a share of 54th place.
Host UNLV shot six-under par 282 to move past Oklahoma State and take the team title with a three-round total of 855 (-9). Georgia Tech’s Cameron Tringale finished at 11-under par 205 to earn the individual medal.
The Gators travel to Statesboro, Ga., this Friday through Sunday for the Chris Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational, hosted by Georgia Southern.
MEN’S TENNIS: It was a weekend the No. 8 Florida men’s tennis team would just as soon forget. After a 4-3 loss at No. 4 Georgia Friday, the Gators suffered a 6-1 loss to No. 6 Tennessee Sunday at Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee improved to 9-3 overall, 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida fell to 11-5 and 2-2.
Joey Burkhardt of St. Augustine gave Florida its only point of the match, beating Tennessee’s Davey Sandgren, 6-3, 6-4. Florida also got a doubles victory from Alex Lacroix of France and Carlos Cueto of Spain. The Gators beat Tennessee’s Christian Hansen and Jeremy Tweedt 8-4 but Florida lost the other two doubles matches and the doubles point.
Florida plays host to Mississippi on March 27 at Linder Stadium.
TENNESSEE 6, FLORIDA 1
At Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center, Knoxville, Tenn.
1. Davey Sandgren/John-Patrick Smith (T) def. Antoine Benneteau/Joey Burkhardt, 8-5.
2. Boris Conkic/Matteo Fago (T) def. Jeff Dadamo/Johnny Hamui, 8-6.
3. Carlos Cueto/Alex Lacroix (F) def. Christian Hansen/Tweedt, 8-4.
Tennessee earns doubles point, 2-1.
1. John-Patrick Smith (T) def. Carlos Cueto, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5.
2. Boris Conkic (T) def. Alex Lacroix, 6-3, 6-2.
3. Matteo Fago (T) def. Antoine Benneteau, 7-5, 6-4.
4. Joey Burkhardt (F) def. Davey Sandgren, 6-3, 6-4.
5. Matt Brewer (T) def. Jeff Dadamo, 7-6, 6-4.
6. Christian Hansen (T) def. Erik Corace, 6-2, 6-0.
DIVING: Following the three-day Zone B Diving Championships hosted by Tennessee at the Allan Jones Aquatics Center, junior Kara Salamone and sophomore Monica Dodson qualified for the 2009 Women’s NCAA Championship meet, which begins Thursday at College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M.
Salamone earned her bid to the NCAA meet for her fourth-place finish in the three-meter springboard finals (640.05), after finishing preliminaries in second place with a score of 322.20. Dodson’s qualification came in the platform event, where she finished second overall with a score of 545.45. Both Dodson and Salamone will be eligible to compete in the one-meter, three-meter and platform events at the NCAA meet.
In men’s diving action, no Gators gained NCAA qualification. Freshman Colin Bell represented Florida in the platform final Sunday with a 17th-place finish (483.65), while Bell’s freshman colleague Anthony Lewark placed 12th with a score of 591.65 on the one-meter springboard.