Women’s tennis beats LSU 4-1 to advance in SEC

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The second-seeded University of Florida women’s tennis team defeated seventh-seeded LSU, 4-1, Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Gators (20-1) advance to the semifinals where they play third-seeded Vanderbilt (17-7) on Saturday beginning at 10 a. m. at the Boone Tennis Complex. Florida won the regular-season meeting, 4-3, in Nashville.

Friday’s win over the Lady Tigers was Florida’s 16th consecutive victory in SEC Tournament matches, as the Gators improved to 20-0 all-time in quarterfinal round contests.

Florida’s depth proved to be the difference against LSU, with the Gators earning the dual match victory after winning the doubles point and collecting singles wins on courts No. 4, 5 and 6.

“LSU played really well. They pushed us a lot harder and farther than they did during the regular-season match,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “They really pushed us, but hopefully this wakes us up and gets the nerves out of our system for Saturday against a really talented Vanderbilt team. Overall, I think today’s match will make us a better team tomorrow.”

With Florida leading the dual match 3-1, freshman Csilla Borsanyi stepped up and provided the clinching victory, posting a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over Staton Spencer at the No. 5 position in two hours and 13 minutes. The two other matches that were on-court during that time were both tied 6-all in the second-set tiebreaker, with Florida up one set on each.

“I was watching the other matches and could tell that they were close, but I tried to focus on what I needed to do,” said Borsanyi, who tallied her seventh straight singles win. “I just wanted to clinch this (dual) match and I played my best in the third set. I really focused, became more offensive and went to the net more and it worked.”

Junior Whitney Benik was the first Gator off the singles court, netting a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Nas Dubova at the No. 6 spot. The first set was on-serve through the first six games before Benik earned a break in the seventh and another in the ninth to take the opening frame. She turned up her game a cruised in the second to earn the straight-set win in one hour and 22 minutes.

“(Nas Dubova) was playing really well to start the match. It felt like our fifth game lasted 20 minutes and I didn’t think I would have a chance to finish because I thought everyone else would have been further along in their matches,” Benik said. “After that (fifth) game, I really stepped up. I really wanted to win a point for the team.”

Nina Suvak gave Florida a 3-0 lead after turning in a 6-4, 6-3 decision against Hannah Robinson on court No. 4. Suvak earned a break in the seventh game of the opening frame which proved to be the difference, as UF’s lone senior served out for the first set. Three breaks began the second set, with Suvak the benefactor of two, as she road that advantage to a 5-2 lead after breaking Robinson again in the seventh game. Suvak couldn’t hold for the win, but took Robinson’s serve again to clinch the victory.

“I played a little bit rusty throughout parts of my match, but that usually happens on the first day of a tournament,” Suvak said. “Overall, I’m happy about my play and I’m more excited about our team getting the win.”

Florida earned doubles wins on courts No. 2 and 3, while the No. 1 match was on-serve with Vanderbilt up 6-5 when play was abandoned. It was the eighth consecutive time and 16th overall contest the Gators began the dual match winning the doubles point.