Friday March 15, 2013No. 4 Women's Tennis Earns Tough Win Against No. 12 Georgia, 4-1
Senior Lauren Embree provided the clinching singles victory.
The University of Florida women’s tennis team improved its remarkable home record against Southeastern Conference teams to 180-1 all-time after Friday evening’s hard-fought 4-1 victory against No. 12 Georgia at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex.
The fourth-ranked Gators, who have won their last 72 matches at the Ring Tennis Complex versus league opponents, also extended their overall home win streak to 114, the longest active home winning streak by any NCAA Division I women’s team in any sport.
VIDEO: POSTMATCH INTERVIEWS - 2Ways2Watch
Head Coach Roland Thornqvist on Friday’s win
Gators Lauren Embree, Olivia Janowicz and Caroline Hitimana talk about the victory
The victory didn’t come easy for Florida (10-2, 3-1 SEC), which dropped the doubles point for the fifth time this season, as Georgia (10-2, 3-1 SEC) took the quick 1-0 lead in the team scoring.
“This was a tremendous win. We showed a lot of character playing the Florida Way of getting things done,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I thought we were resilient in singles. We had high ball tolerance, we were fit and we moved well.
“Georgia is really good in doubles,” Thornqvist continued. “We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do personnel-wise. I’m starting to see some improvement. We’re getting better in the service box and we’ll watch the film on this. Little things here and there are we can get better. We knew doubles was going to be challenging against Georgia and we talked about that before the match. We showed great resiliency today.”
The Gators won the first set on five of the six courts and seemed to have the early momentum.
Senior Caroline Hitimana gave Florida its first point of the dual match, as she earned a 6-3, 6-1 win against Mia King on court six in 68 minutes. Hitimana, who was dominate throughout, raced out to a 4-0 lead and was never really threated, as she won the last seven games to capture her 29th consecutive dual match singles victory.
Junior Olivia Janowicz provided the Gators with a 2-1 lead in the dual match after she downed Makenzie Craft, 6-4, 6-3 on court five and improved to 23-6 on the singles court this year. Janowicz found herself receiving down 4-2 in the first set before digging deep and winning the four straight games to earn the first set. The second set was on serve through six games before Janowciz got the first break of the frame for the 4-3 lead. She then held for a 5-3 advantage and fought off three game-points to capitalize on her first match-point, one hour and 28 minutes into singles play.
“Caroline getting off the court quick really helped to tie the score at 1-all and then not long afterwards having Olivia get off the court with a win,” Thornqvist shared. “Getting those early wins was huge for our players involved in the other singles matches.”
Sofie Oyen was the next off the court and the Gator junior won the intense battle over Silvia Garcia, 7-5, 7-5 on court two in two hours and two minutes. After winning the first set thanks to a break in the eighth game, Oyen was on the receiving end, down 4-3 and then 5-4 in the second, but broke both times, even staving off a pair of set points in the 10th game, before holding to take a 6-5 lead. Oyen then jumped on Garcia’s serve and held double-match point, winning on her second and gave Florida a 3-1 lead.
“The remaining matches were three-setters and we’ve shown, time and time again that we’re pretty tough in three-setters,” Thornqvist said. “When we get to that point I feel pretty good.”
All-American and No. 1-ranked Lauren Embree provided the dual-match clinching heroics, as she won the featured match on court one against No. 7 Lauren Herring, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in two hours and 36 minutes. After dropping a tough 10th and final game of the second set that forced a third, Embree came out determined and held at love and then broke Herring for the 2-0 lead. She earned her second break of the set in the sixth game and lost one point on her next serve for the 5-2 lead en route to her 28th consecutive dual match singles win as well as her 10th straight overall. Embree, who improved to 33-0 all-time in SEC dual match singles play.
Georgia seemed to be close to taking a 2-0 lead, as No. 17 Maho Kowase was dominating Florida’s No. 55 Alexandra Cercone on court three where Kowase won the first set 6-1 and held a 4-1 lead with the serve in the second set. Somehow, Cercone battled her way back in the match, as she earned a break and held for 4-3 down. She then held double-break point in the eighth game and eventually won on a 20-plus rally on her second try and evened the set at 4-all. On her next serve she fought off two break points and held for the 5-4 lead, before Kowase held and the set was even at 5-all as the frame made its way into a tiebreak that Cercone claimed 7-4. The Gator junior then broke to begin the third set, taking her first lead of the entire match.
“Alex’s fight was incredible, I don’t know how she did it,” Thornqvist said. “While she didn’t get a chance to finish her match, it was almost like a win because she was able to keep battling and made Georgia work for a win. That was huge for us. What seemed like they might go up 2-0, never happened and that took pressure off everyone else.”
Florida freshman Brianna Morgan continued her impressive rookie season, as she was leading her match on court four against Kate Fuller, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 4-0, when play was abandoned.
Florida lost the doubles point for the fifth time this season, as Georgia’s third-ranked pair of Silvia Garcia and Kate Fuller jumped out early against Alexandra Cercone and Sofie Oyen on court one, where the Bulldogs took an early break for a 3-1 lead. The Gators got the break back in the seventh game, but Cercone couldn’t hold and Florida trailed 6-3 after Garcia held. The teams each held in the respective next games, but Georgia got one final break for the 8-4 win.
One minute later the Bulldogs clinched the important doubles point when Lilly Kimbell and Makenzie Craft also got the final break over Caroline Hitimana and Olivia Janowicz to win the match 8-5. Georgia dominated the match early, losing just four combined points in the first four games for a 4-0 lead. Janowicz finally held and got the Gators on the board before then the Gators capitalized on their third break point and then Hitimana held, as Florida trailed just 4-3, down one break. The Gator tandem, however, couldn’t overcome its early hole, as Kimbell held and the final five games were breaks.
Florida’s Lauren Embree and Brianna Morgan were leading their match on court two, 7-3, when play was abandoned.
Florida returns to action on Saturday, when the Gators play host to No. 25 Tennessee beginning at 1 p.m. Admission is free and the first 300 fans will receive a Florida Tennis clover-shaped stress ball.
No. 12 Georgia at No. 4 Florida
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
Friday, March 15, 2013
Final: Florida d. Georgia, 4-1
Doubles (order of finish: 1, 3*)
1. Silvia Garcia/Kate Fuller (3), UG d. Alexandra Cercone/Sofie Oyen, UF, 8-5
2. Lauren Embree/Brianna Morgan, UF led Lauren Herring/Maho Kowase, UG, 7-3 DNF
3. Lilly Kimbell/Makenzie Craft, UG d. Caroline Hitimana/Olivia Janowicz, UF, 8-5
Singles (order of finish: 6, 5, 2, 1*)
1. Lauren Embree (1), UF d. Lauren Herring (7), UG, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3*
2. Sofie Oyen (14), UF d. d. Silvia Garcia (77), UG, 7-5, 7-5
3. Maho Kowase (17), UG led Alexandra Cercone (55), UF, 6-1, 6-7 (4), 4-2 DNF
4. Brianna Morgan (96), UF led Kate Fuller (120), UG, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 4-0 DNF
5. Olivia Janowicz, UF d. Makenzie Craft, UG, 6-4, 6-3
6. Caroline Hitimana, UF d. Mia King, UG, 6-3, 6-1
*indicates clinching doubles point/dual match win
Records: Florida 10-2, 3-1 SEC; Georgia 10-2, 3-1 SEC
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