Nashville, Tenn. — The Florida women’s tennis team capped its two-match road swing with its second consecutive 7-0 victory, this time against Vanderbilt on Sunday at the Currey Tennis Center.
The second-ranked Gators (19-1, 8-0 SEC) overcame extremely windy conditions and earned a hard-fought victory for its 22nd straight win against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
“The score didn’t do justice for how close this match was. We played a very good Vanderbilt team today in tough conditions, it was very, very windy and the ball moved around a lot,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “It became more of a contest of who wanted to put more balls in the box. I was very pleased our great determination. We showed tremendous heart and some great courage.”
Alex Cercone (Seminole,Fla.) and Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) got the day off right with an important 8-4 doubles victory against Alex Leatu and Rachael Dillon, shortly before Vanderbilt (10-7, 4-4 SEC) won match on court three.
“I told the team that getting that doubles point was extremely important even though it was only one of seven points because it is tough and difficult to play great tennis in today’s conditions,” Thornqvist said.
The doubles point came down to court number two and it was back and forth battle between Florida sophomore Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) against Lauren Mira and Jackie Wu. The Gator pair came through with a thrilling 9-7 victory and provided the first team point for Florida. The win marked Embree and Mather’s 15th consecutive, a run tied for the eighth-longest streak in UF history.
“We had two veterans there that made some tremendous play calls and poached at the right time in the last game to win the doubles point,” Thornqvist said. “We’re very physical, we move well, we defend well; it’s tough to beat the Gators if you can’t hit the corners. Our doubles play gave us a huge momentum difference.”
On the singles courts, the top of Florida’s lineup took charge early, as Will, Embree and Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) won on courts number two, one and three, respectively.
Will earned the first singles victory of the day, taking down Chelsea Preeg, 6-0, 6-1 for her seventh consecutive win, as she improved to 25-3 this season, including a 16-1 dual match record.
Embree was next off the court, defeating Alex Leatu, 7-6 (3), 6-1, and posting her 16th straight victory, as she gave Florida a 3-0 lead in the team scoring.
Oyen provided the clinching dual match win, downing Jackie Wu, 6-4, 6-1.
Also collecting victories on Sunday afternoon included Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) against Keilly Ulery, 6-1, 7-5, Cercone versus Rachel Dillon, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Mather passing Lauren Mira, 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6).
“Overall, I’m very pleased with our performance today,” Thornqvist said. “Now, we’re going to go home and have a good week of practice with a very important weekend of tennis ahead.”
Florida returns to action on Friday, when the team plays host to No. 7 Georgia (14-1, 8-0 SEC) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex beginning at 5 p.m.
The Gators then entertain No. 16 Tennessee (15-4, 7-0 SEC) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Gators, Bulldogs and Lady Vols are the only three undefeated teams remaining in SEC action.
No. 2 Florida at No. 20 Vanderbilt
Currey Tennis Center * Nashville, Tenn.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Final Score: Florida 7, Vanderbilt 0
1. #24 Cercone, Alexandra/Will, Allie (FLA) def. #58 Leatu, Alex/Dillon, Rachael (VANDYW) 8-4
2. Embree, Lauren/Mather, Joanna (FLA) def. Mira, Lauren/Wu, Jackie (VANDYW) 9-7*
3. Ulery, Keilly/Preeg, Chelsea (VANDYW) def. Janowicz, Olivia/Oyen, Sofie (FLA) 8-6
Order of finish: 1,3,2*
1. #33 Embree, Lauren (FLA) def. #68 Leatu, Alex (VANDYW) 7-6 (7-3), 6-1
2. #6 Will, Allie (FLA) def. #76 Preeg, Chelsea (VANDYW) 6-0, 6-1
3. #93 Oyen, Sofie (FLA) def. Wu, Jackie (VANDYW) 6-4, 6-1*
4. #28 Mather, Joanna (FLA) def. Mira, Lauren (VANDYW) 7-5, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6)
5. #47 Cercone, Alexandra (FLA) def. #118 Dillon, Rachael (VANDYW) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
6. #41 Janowicz, Olivia (FLA) def. Ulery, Keilly (VANDYW) 6-1, 7-5
Order of finish: 2,1,3*,6,5,4
Florida 19-1, 8-0 SEC; National ranking #2
Vanderbilt 10-6, 4-3 SEC; National ranking #20