Saturday February 23, 2013Florida and Stanford Battle in Women's Tennis on Sunday at the Ring Tennis Complex, 11 a.m. ET
Sunday is a day that Gator tennis fans have circled on their calendars for a while, as Florida welcomes Stanford to the Ring Tennis Complex, with first serve scheduled for 11 a.m.
The last time the two powerhouse programs scheduled a regular-season matchup in Gainesville was 20 years ago and the second-ranked Gators upended the then-top-ranked Cardinal, 5-1, on March 24, 1993. The last time Stanford visited Gainesville and played Florida was on May 18, 2003, when the two programs met in the NCAA Championship final, with the Gators taking the 4-3 decision to win its fourth of six national championships.
UF head coach Roland Thornqvist previews Sunday's home match against Stanford:
GatorVision Online: http://www.gatorvision.tv/mediaPortal/player.dbml?id=1685008&db_oem_id=6500
Lauren Embree and Alexandra Cercone talk about playing Stanford on Sunday:
GatorVision Online: http://www.gatorvision.tv/mediaPortal/player.dbml?id=1682790&db_oem_id=6500
Florida and Stanford both are coming off wins against No. 18 Clemson, with the Gators taking the 6-1 win on Friday and the Cardinal, 5-2, on Saturday in Gainesville.
“Stanford is a phenomenal opponent, we have great history with them. I’m hoping that the two teams can produce a product that is great to watch,” said UF head coach Roland Thornqvist, who has guided the Gators to the 2003, 2011 and 2012 NCAA Team Championships. “They are really talented; they have a player like Stacey Tan playing the number five position in their lineup and she’s two years removed from reaching the final of the NCAA Singles Championships. Their lineup gets tougher at the top, too. We’re going to have our hands full on Sunday, no question about it.”
The two schools boast the two most successful women’s tennis program in NCAA history and have combine to win 22 NCAA Team Championships, with Stanford claiming 16 and Florida six.
“It think it’s great for college tennis that we’re able to play during the regular season,” Thornqvist said. “The history of our two programs going back and forth is what makes it so special and I’m hoping we’ll have a huge crowd behind us tomorrow.”
Stanford leads the all-time series against Florida, 17-12, with the Gators holding the 3-2 edge in matches held in Gainesville.
In fact, of the 28 prior meetings between the two schools, last year’s planned regular-season meeting on February 12, 2012, in Stanford, Calif. (that Stanford won 4-2), was just the third time ever Florida and Stanford played a regular-season, non-tournament match. The first contest was on March 31, 1989, also in Gainesville, where the top-ranked Cardinal prevailed 5-4 against the second-ranked Gators.
Two of the last three NCAA Championship final matches featured the Gators against the Cardinal, with Stanford winning 4-3 in 2010 and Florida earning the 4-3 decision in Palo Alto for the 2011 national championship and halted the Cardinal’s NCAA record 184-match home winning streak that spanned from 1999-2011.
Stanford also leads the series when meeting NCAA Championships action, where the Cardinal hold the 9-3 advantage over the Gators, including a 6-3 edge in the final.
Florida is 4-0 at home this season and has extended its overall program-record home winning streak of 111, which includes 19 wins in postseason play (SEC and NCAA Tournament). The Gators set a new standard with their 6-1 victory over Mississippi State on March 29, 2009, passing the previous record of 60. 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.
The 111-match home winning streak is the longest active streak of any NCAA Division I women’s team in any sport. Only the Ohio State’s men’s tennis team sports a longer active home win streak of 157.
“The crowd is a big reason why we have the home win streak that we do,” Thornqvist shared. “The bigger the crowd, the better we play. We’re a very competitive team, we always have been. We’re fit and I’d like to see great life and hopefully that can get the crowd into the match.
“Our ultimate goal is the SEC and NCAA Championship and tomorrow’s match is seeing what it is we need to improve upon to have our best chances at the end,” Thornqvist continued. “I think we’re playing well, we’re getting better. There are things we can improve on; it is February after all and we do have two freshmen in the lineup. With time and practice and a little more experience we’re going to get better every month.”
Sunday’s match also marks the debut of the USTA’s “College MatchDay,” a series that will spotlight men’s and women’s college tennis.
The USTA is giving out hats to the first 200 kids in attendance, while the UAA will be providing free “BEAT STANFORD” t-shirts to the first 500 fans. Prior to the match, kids can participate in the Kid’s Korner for poster making, coloring, meet Alberta and receive Gator head tattoos from the Dazzlers. There also will be a post-match meet and greet with the Gator team.
Ken Thomas will broadcast each College MatchDay on RadioTennis.com.
This season, College MatchDay will also visit Charlottesville, Va., when the University of Virginia men host Duke University on March 22. College MatchDay will feature a team match every week beginning in 2014.
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s tennis:
Official Website: http://www.gatorzone.com/tennis/women/
Twitter: @GatorZoneTennis and @GatorZoneNews