Thursday April 4, 2013Senior Day for Hitimana and Embree This Weekend as No. 2 Gators Welcome Ole Miss and Mississippi St.
After earning two more ranked wins against No. 54 LSU and No. 44 Arkansas last week, the second-ranked University of Florida women’s tennis team will return to the friendly confines of the Ring Tennis Complex this weekend to face Ole Miss and Mississippi State, its final two regular-season home matches of the season.
Florida comes into the pair of matches with a 15-2 overall record and is currently 8-1 in SEC play, which is tied for the best league record with No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 3 Georgia with only four matches remaining for each team.
Last week, Florida extended its overall win streak to eight with a shutout, 4-0, win over LSU in Baton Rouge followed by a nice 7-0 sweep of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
“Everybody is healthy and playing well,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We’re really looking forward to getting back to playing at home. Ole Miss is a tough team. They like to play long points like we do. Lauren (Embree) is going to have a really good match with their number one player. We’ve gotten better and better with each week. At the beginning of the year, our performance level fluctuated a little bit, but we seem to have found a nice form for week in and week out. As a coach, that makes you feel a lot better when you know what you’re going to put out there every week.
This weekend’s matches will also be the final regular-season home matches for seniors Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Caroline Hitimana (Waterloo, Belgium). Combined, the two players have gone a perfect 20-0 during the current dual season in singles and tallied nearly 180 singles wins throughout their Gator careers while only dropping 34 matches total over the last four years.
“Lauren and Caroline have meant a lot to us over the years,” Thornqvist said. “They’ve done a lot for us, so I hope we have a bunch of people in the stands to send them off. Hopefully, we can host a regional and give them two more matches here at home, but this Sunday morning is going to be special.”
Embree will go into this weekend’s matches, again, as the No. 1 player in the nation in singles, getting one win last week against Arkansas’ Yang Pang and extended her win streak to 14-straight matches. The senior has actually won 32-straight singles matches in dual play and is 19-1 on the year. For her career, Embree is 110-14 overall, including 79-5 in dual match action and a stunning 37-0 in SEC play.
For Hitimana, she has also been solid at the No. 6 spot for the Gators this season, racking up a perfect 6-0 record at that position in dual play and is 4-0 in conference play. This season, the Belgium native is 15-4 overall in singles and is one win away from hitting 70 in her career. Last week, Hitimana earned one win against LSU and will ride a six-match winning streak into Friday’s match with Ole Miss.
Florida is 39-3 all-time against Ole Miss, including a 39-3 mark in Gainesville. The Lady Rebels’ last win in the series was a 4-3 decision in Oxford on March 27, 2009. Since that setback, the Gators have won the last five meetings against Ole Miss.
Against Mississippi State, Florida is 32-0 all-time against the Bulldogs, including 14-0 record in Gainesville. Being at home again this weekend, the Gators will bring in an impressive 183-1 all-time home record against SEC opponents and is 10-0 against all opponents at home this season.
Friday’s match with Ole Miss is slated to start at 5 p.m., while Sunday’s Senior Day match with Mississippi State has first serve slated for 10 a.m.
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