Sunday March 24, 2013No. 2 Gators Dispatch No. 18 Auburn, 4-0
With the rain and wind that moved into the Gainesville area early Sunday morning, the second-ranked Gator women’s tennis team had to make some adjustments in their match against 18th-ranked Auburn and play all matches inside the Perry Indoor Tennis Facility. Even with the change in scenery and only singles matches being played, Florida was still able to claim a 4-0 victory Sunday afternoon and move to 6-1 in conference play.
Only three singles matches were able to be played at a time, but junior Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) got the Gators (13-3, 6-1 SEC) on the board early with her fourth straight win, followed by another great outing from senior Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.), who remained perfect in the spring season.
Juniors Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Brianna Morgan (Beverly Hills, Calif.) both claimed another win in conference play to finish the match as Florida extended its impressive all-time home record against SEC opponents to 183-1. Overall, it’s the 117th-straight win for UF on its home courts.
“This was our first taste of playing an entire match indoors,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “Playing singles first is a little different but I thought we handled it well. Auburn is really good. Some positions for Auburn have shortcomings technically, but their players step up with attitude. They were great last year and they’re even better this year. Our players handled it well and we found a way to compete. We’ve gone through a gauntlet of top teams and we’re going to take two days off this week for the first time all season. We need to give our bodies a break and get some air in our heads. It’s not going to affect our forehands and backhands. Mentally, we need a few days off. This homestand has been exciting and we’ve been competing at a high level.”
When the match was decided to be moved indoors to the Perry Indoor Tennis Facility due to the inclement weather, it was agreed by both coaches that singles would be played first and if need be, the doubles would be played after. First on the courts was Embree at court one, Cercone at court three and Janowicz at court five. Facing Auburn’s Plamena Kurteva, Janowicz was the first off the courts as she cruised to a 6-2, 6-2, straight-set victory. Not only was it the junior’s fourth-straight win, but it was also her fourth straight-set win in a row going back to the Gators’ win against South Carolina.
“She (Olivia) was fantastic,” Thornqvist said. “The first 30 minutes, her backhand and forehand were both outstanding and she played balls deep in both corners. Olivia had to go to Plan B in the second set and I was impressed to see how she’s developed and her ability to have Plan A, B and C ready to go really helps. When she gets the lead and gets us on the board early, that helps us. I was pleased.”
In the only match with two ranked players, Embree, in only her second match as the nation’s top-ranked player, faced off against Pleun Bergmans, who is No. 51 in the most recent ITA rankings. Embree found herself down early, 2-1, after three played games in the first set, but re-gained the lead after two wins in a row to go up 3-2, a lead she never relinquished. Embree went on to win the first frame, 6-4, followed by a 6-3, second set victory to claim her 31st dual match win in a row.
After Janowicz and Embree’s win, Cercone wasn’t having as much luck against Jen Pfeifler on court three. Cercone won the first set, 6-1, but then fell behind early in the second set and couldn’t recover as Pfeifler forced the match to a third frame with a 6-3, second set victory. Fortunately, for the Gators, Cercone settled back down and cruised to a 6-2 third set win, giving Florida the comfortable 3-0 lead in the team points. It’s Cercone’s sixth three-set win this year and second in a row as she is now 18-7 total on the year and 9-1 in dual play.
With UF leading the team score 3-0, it seemed like it wouldn’t take much longer for the team to get its fourth point and claim its 13th win of the year. However, Auburn hung tough at the Nos, 2, 4 and 6 positions. Courts two and six were forced to a third set, even after Florida claimed first set victories on all six courts.
Once again, for the second-straight match, Morgan stepped up to the plate and was able to close things out for the Gators. After an easy, 6-2, first set win, Morgan had a 5-4 second set lead and was serving for the match. But her counterpart, Jackie Kasler extended the match after breaking Morgan’s serve to make it 5-all. From there, the Beverly Hills native was all business and closed it out once again to win the second set, 7-5. It’s Morgan’s 10th victory of the dual season and 19th overall. Her 10 dual wins makes her only the third Gator to reach double digits in that category this season.
“She’s turning into a little closer,” Thornqvist said. “What was impressive there, to me, was that Brianna was up 4-2 and Auburn found legs, got to more balls and got the set to 4-all. Brianna had to really dig down and find a way to win. That’s what I’ve been most impressed with, she can hit the ball like a pro and now she can play like a pro. She’s been a great addition for the Gators.”
“I think we feel good. We’re starting to get a handle on doubles and we’re going to continue to try some new combinations. A couple of our players have been getting better at court positioning. We feel really good. We played a tremendous schedule up to this point, countless top-20 teams and I could tell in training that it was starting to take its toll. We definitely need these days off and maybe two more (days off) next week.”
Florida will hit the road for its next two matches as it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on LSU on Friday starting at 4 p.m. The team will then head to Fayetteville, Ark., to face the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday with first serve set for 1 p.m. A full match recap with complete results will be posted on GatorZone.com following each day’s play.
Women’s College Tennis
No. 18 Auburn at No. 2 Florida
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex (Perry Indoor Tennis Facility)
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Final Score: Florida 4, Auburn 0
Doubles (No doubles matches were played on Sunday)
Singles (order of finish: 5, 1, 3, )
1. No. 1 Lauren Embree (UF) d. No. 51 Pleun Bergmans (AU) 6-4, 6-3
2. No. 14 Sofie Oyen (UF) vs. Emily Flickinger (AU) DNF
3. No. 55 Alexandra Cercone (UF) d. Jen Pfeifler (AU) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
4. No. 96 Brianna Morgan (UF) d. Jackie Kasler (AU) 6-2, 7-5
5. Olivia Janowicz (UF) d. Plamena Kurteva (AU) 6-2, 6-2
6. Caroline Hitimana vs. Paulina Schippers (AU) DNF
Records: Florida: 13-2, 6-1 SEC; Auburn 14-4, 4-3 SEC
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s tennis:
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