Friday May 13, 2011Women's Tennis Hosts South Carolina State in NCAA First Round on Saturday
The University of Florida women’s tennis team begins its quest for a fifth national championship on Saturday, when the Gators play host to the opening two rounds of the NCAA Championships at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
Florida won the Southeastern Conference Tournament and earned the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championships, where the team received the No. 2 overall seed and was awarded one of 16 host sites for the first and second rounds of the event.
The Gators play host to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champion South Carolina State (16-2) for the second consecutive year in its NCAA First Round contest on Saturday at noon.
The other NCAA Women’s First Round match played in Gainesville features 34th-ranked Arizona (15-6) versus 35th-ranked South Carolina (13-10) on Saturday at 9 a.m.
The winning teams from those first-round matches meet in the second round on Sunday, May 15 at 1 p.m.
Florida at the NCAA Championships
*Florida is making its 29th appearance in the 30-year history of the NCAA Championships, missing only the 1986 event;
*The Gators boast an 82-24 all-time record in the NCAA Championships;
*The Gators won NCAA team titles in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2003;
*Florida has advanced to at least the NCAA Semifinals 20 times in the last 24 years - including in 2010;
*Since the NCAA expanded the field to 64 teams, Florida has been a perfect 12-0 in first-round matches. The Gators are 11-1 in the round of 32, 24-3 in round of 16 contests, 20-4 in the quarterfinals, 11-9 in the semifinals and 4-7 in the title match.
Saturday will be the third-ever meeting between Florida and the South Carolina State Lady Bulldogs, which met in the first round of the 2006 and 2010 NCAA Championships with the Gators taking the 4-0 victory in Gainesville in both.
20 days will have passed since Florida defeated Tennessee, 4-0, in the SEC Tournament final on April 24 and the Gators return to the court to play South Carolina State on May 14 in the first round of the NCAA Championships.
“Twenty days is a long time between matches. We’re ready to play,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “This team is young and really wants to compete. I’m just really excited for Saturday to roll around so we can start playing somebody else besides ourselves in practice.”
Florida’s primary lineup, which does not have a senior on its roster, features one junior in Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.), as well as sophomores Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and freshmen Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium), Alex Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.).
Florida enters its NCAA First Round match against South Carolina State sporting an overall program-record home winning streak to 93, which includes 15 wins in postseason play (SEC and NCAA Tournament). The last time the Gators fell at home was on May 15, 2004, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Miami (Fla.), 4-3.
“We have to play good doubles – it always begins with that. We talk about it all the time,” Thornqvist, who sports a 242-30 record in 10 seasons with the Gators. “We have to move well in doubles. We have to have courage in doubles. In singles we’ve been very tough, especially at home this year. Being physically ready and playing good doubles is our mantra.”
2011 NCAA First & Second Round Information
Women’s Gainesville NCAA Regional Schedule
Saturday, May 14 * Women's NCAA First Round
9 a.m. - Arizona vs. South Carolina
12 p.m. - Florida vs. South Carolina State
Sunday, May 15 * Women's NCAA Second Round
1 p.m. - Saturday's First Round winners