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Sunday May 10, 2009W-Tennis Marches into NCAA Round of 16 after Thriller over Florida State, 4-2

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) rallied for three-set singles victory and helped the University of Florida women’s tennis team capture a thrilling 4-2 win over Florida State that sent the Gators to the third round of the NCAA Championships on Sunday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

 

Serving with a 5-3 lead in the deciding third set, Mather dropped the first two points of the game and needed to call an injury timeout because of cramping in her right wrist. The Gator rookie regrouped from the treatment and was able to fight off three break points to post the 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Seminoles junior Lauren Macfarlane at the No. 3 position.

 

“I started out the match kind of nervous. I lost to [Macfarlane] two months ago and I really just wanted to beat her,” said Mather, who lost the regular-season meeting against Macfarlane, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. “I came out and all I could think about was the end result of the match. After the first set [UF associate head coach] Dave [Balogh] just came over to me and told me to breathe and relax. I started relaxing and started playing and things just turned around.”

 

Mather lost her serve to start all three sets, but broke right back in the second and third sets to keep pace with Macfarlane. Mather emerged on the positive side of three consecutive breaks midway through the second and held a 5-3 with the serve, before Macfarlane broke. Mather was able to dig deep and forced a deciding third set with a break of her own, as the two took advantage of the NCAA’s heat rule that provides competitors a 10-minute break when the temperature is at least 90 degrees.

 

The two opened splitting breaks and Mather earned two more to take a 5-1 lead in the third. Macfarlane held steady and broke, before holding at love and winning the first two points of the ninth game as she ripped off 10 consecutive points and appeared to have the moment despite the deficit. She couldn’t convert any of her three break-point opportunities and Mather made her pay, as she smashed a forehand winner down the line to cap the two-hour victory before she was swarmed by her teammates.

 

“I was playing for the team and that’s all I could think about,” Mather shared. “No pressure about the match. All of us were just playing with all of our hearts. It’s just a bonus to make it this far.”

 

The difference between UF’s 5-2 regular-season loss was its singles play, as the Gators were able to collect two victories and improve to 49-1 all-time against the Seminoles (17-8). The singles lineups were identical, but Mather, in addition to freshman Jessica Alexander (Dallas, Texas) rebounded for wins, while junior Marrit Boonstra (Netherlands) earned her second win of the year against FSU’s top player.

 

Alexander played a solid match on court No. 4, where she earned a 6-2, 6-2 win over 106th-ranked Federica Suess, who posted a 6-2, 6-2 decision in the regular-season meeting. Sunday’s win was Alexander’s team-leading sixth consecutive singles victory and gave Florida a 2-1 lead after FSU took the win at the No. 6 spot.

 

UF head coach Roland Thornqvist was proud of the way Alexander and Mather have improved since the early part of the season.

 

“You can’t call them freshmen anymore now. The good thing with this year was that they all had to play and they all had to play a lot,” Thornqvist said. “The bad thing is that they had to play through some injuries and there were certainly times there during the year where the youngsters, particularly, could have lost confidence because they weren’t playing at the optimal time. All three of them showed that they’re tough enough to be able to overcome that. Jessica’s [Alexander] performance today was simply spectacular. She got beat in straight sets a two months ago, fairly easily, by the same player [Federica Suess] and today the score was 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes. To be able to get off the court to be able to extend our lead to 2-1 was certainly crucial.”

 

Boonstra needed a third set to extend UF’s team lead to 3-1, but provided a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Katie Rybakova in just under two hours on the showcase court. Rybakova raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, before Boonstra settled and controlled the majority of the way, jumping out to a 5-0 lead herself to start the second set, as she became the third by holding at love, breaking the Seminoles’ first serve of the set and capping the third game with a powerful ace to take a 3-0 lead and never looked back.

 

Her win came shortly before junior Anastasia Revzina (Russia) lost her 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 battle against Noemie Scharle on court No. 2, as FSU closed to 3-2 in the team scoring.

 

UF freshman Barbara Pinterova (Slovenia) kept her No. 5 singles match close against senior Ania Rynarzewska, as the Gator won a tight first set by winning the first set 6-2 and was serving at 5-4 in the second, as Rynarzewska capitalized on her fourth break point to keep play alive. Pinterova broke right back in the 11th game, converting her third break opportunity. She then held two match-points in the 12th game, but Rynarzewska’s experience kicked in and forced a tiebreaker, which she won 7-3 to force a third set. The pair had not played a point in the third when Mather ended the dual match.

 

Similar to the regular-season meeting against Florida State, the Gators (16-9) began Sunday’s postseason bout winning a thrilling doubles point, as UF’s No. 1 pair of Boonstra and Mather topped Federica Suess and Katie Rybakova, 8-5, before Alexander and Revzina defeated Jessica Sucupira and Bonny Davidson, 8-4, in 61 minutes.

 

Florida next plays No. 2-seeded Georgia on Fri., May 15 in the NCAA Round of 16 in College Station, Texas. The teams split two meetings this season, with the Gators winning the regular-season affair, 4-3, on March 13, before the Lady Bulldogs captured the 4-2 decision in the SEC Tournament semifinals on April 25.

 

Georgia is a fantastic team, obviously. They have great players at every position. We played them here – we played them well – and then we had to play them inside at the SEC Tournament which, in my opinion, favors Georgia. One thing about this crew, don’t count them out. They’ve shown that and they’ve proven that all year long.”

 

Sunday’s win, which extended UF’s program-record home winning streak to 66 matches, gives the Gators their 26th appearance in the round of 16 at the 28th NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships.

 

 

NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships – Second Round

No. 18 Florida State at No. 15 Florida

Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex * Gainesville, Fla.

 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

 

Final Score: Florida 4, Florida State 2

 

Doubles

1. (18) Marrit Boonstra/Joanna Mather, UF d. Federica Suess/Katie Rybakova, FS 8-5

2. (50) Jessica Alexander/Anastasia Revzina, UF d. Jessica Sucupira/Bonny Davidson, FS 8-4*

3. Lauren Macfarlane/Noemie Scharle, FS d. Brooke Allen/Lauren Wolken, UF 8-0

Singles

1. (8) Marrit Boonstra, UF d. (50) Katie Rybakova, FS 1-6, 6-2, 6-1

2. (35) Noemie Scharle, FS d. (40) Anastasia Revzina, UF 2-6, 6-1, 6-1

3. Joanna Mather, UF d. Lauren Macfarlane, FS 2-6, 6-4, 6-3*

4. Jessica Alexander, UF d. (106) Federica Suess, FS 6-2, 6-2

5. Barbara Pinterova, UF vs. Ania Rynarzewska, FS 6-2, 6-7 (3) DNF

6. Jessica Sucupira, FS d. Lauren Wolken, UF 6-0, 6-0

 

Order of Finish: Doubles-3, 1, 2*; Singles-6, 4, 1, 2, 3*

 

*indicates clinching doubles point and dual match win

 

Records: Florida 16-9; Florida State 17-8

 


POSTMATCH QUOTES

 

Florida Head Coach Roland Thornqvist

On junior Marrit Boonstra coming back from a 6-1 first-set loss to win her singles match …

“I think maybe Katie’s [FSU player Katie Rybakova] pace in the first set bothered Marrit more than it should have. Once Marrit settled down, I think she realized that if we maybe took a step back a little sooner she could have done what she did in the second set and kept the ball in front of her. If Katie couldn’t hit winners, she couldn’t beat Marrit. As soon as we figured that out, it was smooth sailing from then on. It took some figuring out on her part, but she certainly did it again today.”

 

On the play of the team’s freshmen …

“You can’t call them freshmen anymore now. The good thing with this year was that they all had to play and they all had to play a lot. The bad thing is that they had to play through some injuries and there were certainly times there during the year where the youngsters, particularly, could have lost confidence because they weren’t playing at the optimal time. All three of them showed that they’re tough enough to be able to overcome that. Jessica’s [Alexander] performance today was simply spectacular. She got beat in straight sets a two months ago, fairly easily, by the same player [Federica Suess] and today the score was 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes. To be able to get off the court to be able to extend our lead to 2-1 was certainly crucial.”

 

On facing Georgia in the NCAA Round of 16 …

Georgia is a fantastic team, obviously. They have great players at every position. We played them here – we played them well – and then we had to play them inside at the SEC Tournament which, in my opinion, favors Georgia. One thing about this crew, don’t count them out. They’ve shown that and they’ve proven that all year long.”

 

On if he likes his team playing the role of the underdog …

“Absolutely. We said all year long that there have been plenty of opportunities for this team just to pack it up and go home. We lost to LSU and we lost to Ole Miss. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and go away, but these guys refused to do that. If we play like we did today, let’s go. We’ve got nothing to lose.”

 

 

Florida Junior Marrit Boonstra

On the team’s 4-2 win against Florida State on Sunday …

“The win for us is amazing. We lost last time to them, so it’s great to take revenge and doing it at home in front of our crowd is amazing, and we are very happy to make it to the Sweet 16.”

 

On dropping a 6-1 decision in the match’s first set to FSU’s Katie Rybakova

“I wasn’t nervous at all, I just didn’t feel the ball and she hits really hard. I didn’t really play my own game because she didn’t give me rhythm and then the second set, I just kept the ball in play and started to get more rhythm.”

 

 

Florida Freshman Jessica Alexander

On her slow start in doubles play …

“The FSU girls came out playing very strong and we knew if we kept a presence at the net and on the baseline, then they would breakdown and that’s what happened. We just kept going and I thought we played well.”

 

On having won six consecutive singles matches … 

“Every match, I just want to do the best for the team, whether it be winning or supporting them vocally. Every match, fighting as hard as you can, that’s the best thing you can do for your team.”

 

 

Florida Freshman Joanna Mather

On dropping the first set to FSU’s Lauren Macfarlane in singles …

“I started out the match kind of nervous. I lost to [Lauren Macfarlane] two months ago and I really just wanted to beat her. I came out and all I could think about was the end result of the match. After the first set [UF associate head coach] Dave [Balogh] just came over to me and told me to breathe and relax. I started relaxing and started playing and things just turned around.”

 

On whether she was aware of what was going on with the matches around her …

“That helped so much, having Marrit [Boonstra] winning and having Barbara [Pinterova] up next to me. I felt like there wasn’t so much pressure on my match, because I had people around me winning so I could just play.

 

On if she thought she’d be in the position to clinch an NCAA match her first season …

“It doesn’t even feel like it. I was playing for the team and that’s all I could think about. No pressure about the match. All of us were just playing with all of our hearts. It’s just a bonus to make it this far.”

 

On how much the crowd was a factor …

“The crowd always helps. Having people cheering for us is always great.”

 

 

Florida State Head Coach Jennifer Hyde

On facing Florida for a second time this season …

“Home court advantage helped Florida. It helped us when we played Florida at home.  I think that is one of the great things about the Florida/Florida State rivalry, is that the fans get really into the games and it is fun for both sides. They played a little bit better than we did in doubles today, although our girls did a fantastic job. We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had. We had a number of game-points slip through our fingers, but Florida played well today and they earned it. They played better in a couple of different spots and when it came down to the wire they got it done.”

 

On Noemie Scharle winning her match …

Noemie did a great job after losing her second set. She played her game, like she did in her first set.  She moved up a bit on the baseline.  [Florida player] Anastasia [Revzina] was hitting the ball short, so we adjusted, and we able to dictate more off of the short ball.  We worked harder and were willing to play one more ball on the court than she was. Noemie did a great job today of outlasting her and got the win.  I’m very proud of her. She has been dealing with the freshmanitis of trying to learn and grow. Yesterday, she had a rough day. She didn’t lose, but had to get over some hurdles. It shows a lot about the kind of career she will have here at Florida State.”

 

On Ania Rynarzewska winning her second set …

“I’m never overly confident in any situation, but there isn’t a person on team I don’t fully believe in.  Ania did a fantastic job.  All year long she has been money; with clinching matches and coming from behind.  I knew she would outlast Barbara.  That’s one thing she has done her entire career, is driven people nuts.  We feel very confident in all of our spots.”

 

 

Florida State Junior Jessica Sucupira

On her singles victory against Florida’s Lauren Wolken

“The first few games were pretty close, but after I got rolling I was able to dominate. After the win, I knew I had to be out there for my team. As a co-captain with Lauren Macfarlane, my voice is strong on the team and that is place on the team; to help cheer on the team and move on to victory.”

 

-UF-

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