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The Gators captured their 100th consecutive home win on Friday against Vanderbilt.

Friday March 9, 2012Women's Tennis Wins 100th Consecutive Home Match, Defeats Vanderbilt 6-1

Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators captured their 100th consecutive home win on Friday against Vanderbilt.

The second-ranked University of Florida women’s tennis team defeated 22nd-ranked Vanderbilt 6-1 and captured its 100th consecutive home victory at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex Friday evening.

 

The Gators (9-1, 3-0 SEC) also won their 28th straight regular-season match and improved their all-time home record against Southeastern Conference opponents to an astounding 174-1.

 

Florida’s home win streak is the longest active by any NCAA Division I women’s program in any sport. The Stanford women’s basketball team owns the second-longest active home winning streak by a women’s team with 79 straight. The Ohio State men’s tennis team has won 137 consecutive matches entering Friday’s home event against Texas A&M. The Gators have not lost at home since a 4-3 decision to Miami (Fla.) on May 15, 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Championships.

 

“We’ve had a lot of good players here and this year’s team is up there with any team we’ve ever had,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I can think of many great memories here - in 2009 when we were lean on players and in 2005 and 2006 when we had some really tough players who kept this streak going.”

 

The Gators raced out to early leads on the doubles court and the initial team point seemed well in hand until Vanderbilt (10-5, 2-1 SEC) came storming back and made things a bit uncomfortable for the Gator faithful in the stands.

 

After the team of Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) cruised to an 8-2 win in 38 minutes against Alex Leatu and Jackie Wu, it seemed the pair of Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) and Allie Will (Boca Raton, Fla.) would follow shortly afterwards on court one, where the Gators jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the eight-game pro-set against Ashleigh Antal and Lauren Mira.

 

The Commodores, however, continued to fight and evened the match at 6-all. Will won the first three points on her serve in the Gator’s next service game and after one Vandy point, Will hit an amazing backhand cross court volley for a winner to end the Commodore run and give Florida a 7-6 lead. Vanderbilt then earned a break in the 15th game and Mira went to serve for the match, but the Gators broke back and forced a tiebreak, which was even at 5-all before they won the next two points for the 9-8 (7-5) victory and clinched the doubles point.

 

Florida needed that doubles win, as Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) rallied from a 5-3 deficit and forced a tiebreaker, but lost to Marie Casares and Nelly Radeva, 9-8 (7-3).

 

“I thought we looked like a championship team in singles because Vanderbilt is really good and gave us all we could handle in doubles,” Thornqvist said. “I was curious to see how we were going to begin singles play and I thought the first 30 minutes we just put out the flames immediately. We ran well and made good decisions. We showed good patience and were tough. I was very pleased with our performance.”

 

The Gators appeared refocused between doubles and singles play, as they came out and dominated early.

 

Junior Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium) was the first Gator off the singles court, as she posted a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Radeva on court six for her seventh consecutive overall singles victory, as well as her 14th straight in dual match action. Hitimana was never really threatened during her match, even after she lost her serve to begin the second set, as she regrouped and ripped off the next four games en route to the straight-set decision.

 

Mather, the lone senior on the 2011-12 Gator team, was next to earn a victory, as she downed Leatu 6-3, 6-2 to earn her fourth straight singles win and give Florida a 3-0 lead. The win was Mather’s 90th career singles victory, as she improved to 90-31 in her career.

 

One minute later Oyen provided the clinching milestone team victory with her 6-0, 7-5 win against Antal on court five. After a quick first set, Oyen took a 4-2 lead with the serve, but Antal fought back and evened the set at 4-all. The next three games were on-serve, before Oyen earned one final break to secure her 13th consecutive singles victory and clinch the team win.

 

Both Embree and Will held a few match points on their respective opponent’s serves and played long duce games, before Embree eventually emerged with a 6-3, 6-2 victory against Wu in one hour and 48 minutes, before Will claimed a 6-2, 6-3 win over Mira on minute later.

 

The win for Embree was the 75th of her career, while Will improved her career singles record to 97-11, including 14-1 this year.

 

Cercone and Casares and battled out a two hour and four minute contest, with the Commodores finally taking the 2-6, 7-5, 10-7 decision to end the dual match.

 

Florida next plays host to Kentucky on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Admission is free and the first 250 fans will receive a Florida Tennis duffle bag.

 

Women’s College Tennis

No. 22 Vanderbilt at No. 2 Florida

Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex

Gainesville, Fla.

 

Friday, March 9, 2012

 

Final Score: Florida 6, Vanderbilt 1

 

Doubles (order of finish: 2, 1, 3)

1. Sofie Oyen/Allie Will (13), UF d. Ashleigh Antal/Lauren Mira, VU, 9-8 (7-5)* [1:14]

2. Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (31) d. Alex Leatu/Jackie Wu (50), VU, 8-2 [0:38)

3. Marie Casares/Nelly Radeva, VU d. Alexandra Cercone/Olivia Janowicz, UF, 9-8 (7-3) [1:19]

 

Singles (order of finish: 6, 3, 5, 1, 2, 4)

1. Lauren Embree (23), UF d. Jackie Wu (29), VU 6-3, 6-2

2. Allile Will (1), UF d. Lauren Mira (98), VU 6-2, 6-3

3. Joanna Mather (18), UF d. Alex Leatu, VU 6-3, 6-2

4. Marie Casares, VU d. Alexandra Cercone (49), UF 2-6, 7-5, 10-7

5. Sofie Oyen (39), UF d. Ashleigh Antal, VU, 6-0, 7-5*

6. Caroline Hitimana, UF d. Nelly Radeva, VU, 6-0, 6-2 [1:13]

 

Updated Records: Florida 9-1, 3-0 SEC; Vanderbilt 10-5, 2-1 SEC

 

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