Saturday May 14, 2011Women's Tennis Outlasts South Carolina State in NCAA First Round
Caroline Hitimana earned wins in singles and doubles.
The University of Florida women’s tennis team had to wait out a six-hour rain delay before finally getting to take the court for its NCAA First Round match against South Carolina on Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
Once the Gators did take the court, they seemed a bit sluggish at the start of their doubles play, yet still earned the initial point of the dual match. They took that onto the singles court, where again Mother Nature forced the competitors off the slick surface for 10 minutes before the Gators regrouped and polished off the Lady Bulldogs, 4-0.
“I thought we played a much-improved South Carolina State team,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “They were much better than they were last year. They competed harder and certainly hit the ball much better than they did last year. The first 5-10 minutes of doubles, the balls were whizzing by our heads. I don’t think we were ready for it. We finally settled down and ultimately played pretty well, particularly our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. The one double was coming around but I felt the scoreboard washed it a little bit since the other two matches ran away. I felt South Carolina State did a really good job.”
It was three sophomores who tallied singles wins and helped the Gators (26-1) win their 16th consecutive match, while improving to 13-0 all-time in NCAA Round of 64 matches.
Florida will face Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina (14-10) in the second round on Sunday at 2 p.m. (THIS IS A TIME CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS RELEASES). The Gamecocks rallied for a 4-2 victory against Arizona in their opening round contest.
UF sophomore Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) provided the clinching singles victory, as she posted a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Laura Bosneag in 65 minutes. The double-bagel win was her first of the season and extended her win streak to 10.
Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) gave Florida a 2-0 lead when Daria Sekerina retired after the Gator sophomore won the first set, 6-1, in 35 minutes. The win was Will’s 12th consecutive victory and her 30th of the year, as she moved to 30-3 this season.
Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) was the second off the court, as she posted a 6-0, 6-0 shutout against Suhaila Jad on court two. The win, which also was Embree’s first double-bagel of the year, extended her singles win streak to 21 which is tied for the 10th-longest in program history. The Gator sophomore has yet to lose a singles match this season, with all 21 coming in dual match play.
Sunday’s match against South Carolina will be the third meeting since April 16 between the two schools, with Florida earning a 7-0 win in the regular-season match-up in Gainesville and a tight 4-0 victory in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.
Saturday’s victory against South Carolina State was Florida’s 94th consecutive home win. The last loss was a 4-3 decision to Miami (FL) on May 15, 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
UF Head Coach Roland Thornqvist
“I thought we played a much-improved South Carolina State team. They were much better than they were last year. They competed harder and certainly hit the ball much better than they did last year. The first 5-10 minutes of doubles, the balls were whizzing by our heads. I don’t think we were ready for it. We finally settled down and ultimately played pretty well, particularly our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. The one double was coming around but I felt the scoreboard washed it a little bit since the other two matches ran away. I felt South Carolina State did a really good job.”
“In singles, we had a few matches where I thought we were clearly better. Those were the ones that finished off. I was happy to see that the total duration that we were on the court – it was a long day, but the total match play was not that bad. I’m hoping to get a good night’s rest. We have to do a good job of eating a good dinner even though it’s nine o’clock.”
On South Carolina:
“South Carolina is a good team. We’ve played them twice in the past month. They gave us a tough times both times. We have to be absolutely ready tomorrow physically.”
On the impact of the delay:
“I felt more shot-making ability in singles was a clear indication. Olivia has been playing really well in practice; frankly the best she’s played all year. Tonight was nowhere near the way she looked two days ago in practice. That can happen sometimes, where you have a disconnect between practice and match play. Three weeks is a long time. Hopefully, playing today makes us a little better tomorrow. That’s what you hope and I think you’ll see that too. We sent our players away (for the rain delay). It’s never fun to just sit and wait. You have to be able to handle that. It’s the same for both teams. They sat in their vans. At least we had a home to go home to.”
“We try to make practice the same (as a match), but the pressure is not there. The cost of making an error is practice is just not there. If it’s 30-all and you hit a ball in the net, there’s a cost to it (in a match). In practice you can just wail away without any fear. It’s just not the same. You cannot prepare and tell them, ‘Hey, do 10 pushups if you miss.’ Even that won’t work. The cost of missing it in a game situation is not something you can simulate. It’s much easier for the underdog because the underdog can just swing away. They (South Carolina State) did a really good job of that. They played really, really well in doubles. It was a different team we played today versus a year ago.”
Florida Player Quotes
UF Sophomore Lauren Embree
On her performance today:
“I sat out doubles, but I watched and I thought our doubles teams played pretty well. They got off to a rough start, but then they were pretty good from there. I think I played pretty well in singles, coach (Thornqvist) just told us to just do our business and get off the court, so I feel like everyone did that and everyone played well.”
On the rain delay:
“I thought it was pretty annoying because you have to go and come back, but it’s just something you have to do. We weren’t really distracted by it, just a little bored.”
On beating a team three times in a season:
“We’ve played them so many times—we’re just as familiar with them as they are with us, so it might be difficult, but I feel like if we play like we’ve been playing and just go out there and focus, we should be okay.”
On her win streak:
“It’s in the back of my mind, but I don’t really think about it when I am going on the court. It kind of helps my confidence, knowing that I’ve done so well and that I’m playing so well. I think tomorrow I’ll just go out and play with the same attitude and just be really focused and try and win for my team.”
UF Sophomore Caroline Hitimana
On South Carolina:
“South Carolina is a pretty good team and we’ve seen them twice this year, so we’ve seen their players before. We’re just going to go home, rest and then focus to play some good tennis tomorrow.”
On the long day:
“I feel a little tired because I’ve been waiting all day and just wanted to get on the court and play some tennis. It seems like it was a really long day, but hopefully we can get some rest and play some really good tennis tomorrow.”
On her win streak:
“Well I haven’t played in a long time, I was on the bench for like, six weeks, or maybe a little bit more. It is exciting to get back on the court. I just wanted to play my best and be there for the team.”
On her doubles play:
“We had a really rough start, but then we got together and played some really good tennis, so I was happy with that.”
NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships First Round
South Carolina State vs. No. 2 Seed Florida
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex * Gainesville, Fla.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Final Score: Florida 4, South Carolina State 0
1. #2 Alex Cercone/Allie Will, UF vs. Daria Sekerina/Maria Craciun, SCSU 4-5 DNF
2. # Olivia Janowicz/Joanna Mather, UF d. Suhaila Jad/Sabrina Mendez, SCSU, 8-3*
3. Caroline Hitimana/Sofie Oyen, UF d. Akilah James /Laura Bosneag, SCSU, 8-2
Order of Finish: 3, 2*
1. #7 Allie Will, UF vs. Daria Sekerina, SCSU, 6-1, ret.
2. #17 Lauren Embree, UF d. Suhaila Jad, SCSU, 6-0, 6-0
3. #42 Joanna Mather, UF led Akilah James, SCSU, 6-1, 2-3 DNF
4. #54 Alex Cercone UF led Maria Craciun, SCSU, 6-1, 0-1 DNF
5. Sabrina Mendez, SCSU led #53 Olivia Janowicz, UF, 6-3, 1-2 DNF
6. Caroline Hitimana, UF d. Laura Bosneag, SCSU, 6-0, 6-0*
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 6*
Updated Records: Florida (26-1), South Carolina State (16-3)
*indicates clinching doubles/dual match point