Friday April 20, 2012Women's Tennis Advances to SEC Tournament Semifinal after Sweep of Tennessee
Alexandra Cercone (left) and Olivia Janowicz won their respective singles and doubles matches.
Top-seeded Florida advanced to the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals after its 4-0 victory against eighth-seeded and No. 20 Tennessee Friday evening at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
Third-ranked Florida will play fourth-seeded and tournament host Ole Miss on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT. The 16th-ranked Rebels defeated Vanderbilt, 4-0 in their quarterfinal match, as the top four seeds each advanced with sweeps, with No. 2 Alabama blanking Arkansas and No. 3 Georgia downing South Carolina.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a fun match,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said of playing Ole Miss on Saturday. “We’ll have our hands full. They know how to play doubles also. They’re really talented at the top of their lineup and gritty at the bottom of it, so absolutely we’ve got our hands full. But we’re eager. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, and we’re excited about it.”
The Gators, who improved to 25-0 all-time in SEC Tournament quarterfinal matches, won the doubles point to take the early lead. Singles matches were early in the first set on all six courts when rain forced the rest of the dual match indoors. After a 30-minute delay to relocate to the three courts at the Gillom Sports Center, action resumed for positions four, five and six.
Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) was the first to complete her singles match and posted a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Joanna Henderson to earn her eighth consecutive singles victory and give Florida (19-1) and 2-0 lead in the team scoring. Cercone held a 4-1 lead in the first set before the weather forced the match inside, where the first three games were breaks and Cercone taking the first frame. She then raced out to a 4-0 lead en route to the win.
Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) then downed Caitlyn Williams, 6-2, 6-2, and Florida took a 3-0 lead, as the Gator sophomore won the first three games after moving indoors to build upon her 4-2 advantage. She then won a long sixth game in the second set to break Williams and cruised in the final two games to earn the victory.
Sophomore Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) provided the clinching dual match win when she completed a 6-1, 7-5 decision against Jesse Grace. Janowicz also came out strong on the indoor courts, where she won the first five games to take the opening frame and a 2-0 lead in the second en route to a 5-2 advantage. Grace fought back and evened the set at 5-all before Janowicz dug deep and broke for a 6-5 lead and held at love to secure the Gator’s spot in the semifinals.
On the doubles court, Cercone and Janowicz tallied an 8-4 win before Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) polished off the initial team point with an 8-2 decision and post their 17th consecutive victory, a run tied for the sixth longest in UF history.
All other matches were halted once the dual match and doubles point outcomes had been decided.
Florida has won 14 consecutive matches entering Saturday’s semifinal match, as well as 42 straight against SEC teams.
Florida, which boasts a 64-7 all-time record in SEC Tournament action, has advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament in 22 of the 24 years the event has been played, capturing 16 titles.
Ole Miss is providing live scoring and additional coverage throughout the four-day event at:
Complete Postmatch Quotes:
FLORIDA HEAD COACH ROLAND THORNQVIST
On the team’s comfort level moving indoors:
“We don’t practice inside much, but I do think we’ve shaken off that fear or hesitancy playing inside because the past few years we did do fairly well inside. We played Tennessee indoors at their place earlier in the year. We hit in here twice, and coming inside we weren’t really afraid of it honestly. Obviously, we’re an outdoor team and we prefer to play outside but we were ok in here too.”
On being the last team to play a match:
“At this stage now all we want is (match) play. We’ve practiced plenty. We started August 24 and so it’s a long time coming here. We’re excited to move on. Tennessee has a very talented team. Obviously they’ve dealt with a lot of injuries this year, but it’s a really talented team and they can hit the ball. But I thought our guys did really well.”
On whether it plays an advantage moving forward that Lauren Embree, Allie Will and Joanna Mather all didn’t have to play a complete singles match:
“With them, they’re honestly all so fit. I don’t think that really matters honestly. If it was outside and 100 degrees then I would say yes it’d be to our advantage. But they’re so fit playing two hours in 70 degree weather it’s no big deal to them.”
On Ole Miss:
“I’m sure it’s going to be a fun match. We’ll have our hands full. They know how to play doubles also. They’re really talented at the top of their lineup and gritty at the bottom of it, so absolutely we’ve got our hands full. But we’re eager. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, and we’re excited about it.”
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH MIKE PATRICK
On the doubles:
“I think we played as well as we could have played tonight. We played a good team and we did everything we could do. They’re the defending National Champions and honestly we’re going out there and doing a lot without a lot of work and still some broken parts. I thought we competed hard and our effort was good. Our execution’s not great, but it’s not going to be great when you don’t practice very much.”
On whether moving indoors was an advantage:
“It’d be more of an advantage if we had healthy players. But Florida is a good team and we would need to be at our very best and have practiced and worked hard for the whole entire year to be competitive with them, and we haven’t had that luxury so far. So, we did the best with what we had and I’m proud of the kids.”
On what he sees Florida doing the rest of the season:
“They’ve got plenty of talent. It’s always hard to repeat, but they’re a very good team and they’re doing a good job.”
On the upcoming final weeks of the season:
“Hopefully we’ll feel better in about two weeks. That’s what we’re shooting for. We’ll see if we can get ready for the NCAA Tournament now. This was good for us because a couple of kids that hadn’t played in a long time got to play a little bit. We’ll take a couple more days off and start training again and actually start getting ready for something instead of just showing up and playing. We’re not quite good enough to just show up and play.”
2012 SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament
Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center
Friday, April 20, 2012
Quarterfinals Team Results
#3 Georgia d. #6 South Carolina, 4-0
#2 Alabama d. #10 Arkansas, 4-0
#4 Ole Miss d. #5 Vanderbilt, 4-0
#1 Florida d. #8 Tennessee, 4-0
UF’s Individual Dual Match Results
Final Score: Florida d. Tennessee, 4-0
Doubles (order of finish: 3, 2)
1. Sofie Oyen/Allie Will (1), UF led Natalie Pluskota/Kata Zsekely, UT, 5-4 DNF
2. Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (19), UF d. Brynn Boren/Caitlyn Williams, UT, 8-2*
3. Alexandra Cercone/Olivia Janowicz (47), UF d. Joanna Henderson/Jesse Grace, UT, 8-4
Singles (order of finish: 5, 4, 6)
1. Lauren Embree (10), UF led Natalie Pluskota (35), UT, 6-2 DNF
2. Allie Will (1), UF led Brynn Boren (28), UT, 3-2 DNF
3. Kata Zsekely (52), UT led Joanna Mather (23), UF, 3-2 DNF
4. Sofie Oyen (51), UF d. Caitlyn Williams, UT, 6-2, 6-2
5. Alexandra Cercone (68), UF d. Joanna Henderson, UT, 6-2, 6-1
6. Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Jesse Grace, UT, 6-1, 7-5*
*clinching doubles/dual match win