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Sunday May 18, 2003Women's Tennis Upsets Stanford To Win Nat'l Title

Gainesville, FL

The No. 2 seeded University of Florida women's tennis team claimed the school's fourth NCAA women's tennis title as it upset top-seed and two-time defending national champion Stanford 4-3 Sunday afternoon in the finals of the 2003 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.

Junior Julie Rotondi (Hingham, MA) provided the thrilling championship point with her 6-0, 7-5 upset victory over 16th-ranked Lauren Barnikow in the No. 2 singles position.

After cruising through the first set, the second set was a battle. The first three games were service breaks, as Rotondi found herself in an early hole. She finally got the set back on serve with a break in sixth game and held to take a 4-3 lead. Barnikow served a love game and then broke Rotondi in the next to serve with a 5-4 advantage. But Rotondi won three of the first four points and capitalized on her second break point to keep the set alive. Rotondi's serve in the 11th game lasted a grueling 14 points. She held a 40-15 lead, but Barnikow rallied to force duce and even held one break point. However Rotondi fed off the spirited home crowd and held serve on her fifth game point. In the 12th game, Barnikow won the first two points of her serve, but Rotondi won the next four, including the final point where Barnikow's forehand went into the net and produced Florida's fourth national tennis championship.

"I think it is something every one of us has dreamed of since we were young," Rotondi shared. "I've dreamed about it in basketball, when I played basketball, and in tennis now. It's literally something you dream about and I was in that situation and I had the whole crowd behind me. I had my team just dying every single point. The coaches were trying to act all calm but you know they're dying inside. It was just going to come down to who was more poised and who wanted it more, and I've never wanted something so bad in my life."

The Gators (31-2) took the early momentum after winning the doubles point for the 28th time this season, putting Stanford (25-2) in a 1-0 deficit for the just the third time all year.

UF's No. 3 team of Lindsay Dawaf (Olney, MD) and Julia Scaringe (Marietta, GA) gave the Gators their first win of the day with an 8-3 victory against Emilia Anderson and Story Tweedie-Yates. The Gator duo earned a break in the sixth game and then struck again in the eighth game against Anderson's serve after the Cardinal held a game point at 40-30. The remainder of the eight-game pro-set was played on serve, with Dawaf serving out for the win.

The No. 1 match featured UF's 26th-ranked Jennifer Magley and Zerene Reyes facing top-ranked Lauren Barnikow and Erin Burdette. The Gators rose to the challenge and upset the Cardinal tandem 8-5, but not without a fierce fight.

The opening two games were service breaks, before Reyes held to give UF a 2-1 lead. UF then broke Barnikow at love, but couldn't keep the break, as Magley lost her serve in the next game. Burdette then held at love and broke Reyes at love in the next game to take a 4-3 lead. But again the Gators snatched Barnikow's serve and Magley held to keep the match on serve at 5-4. After each team held in its next game, the Gators fought off one game-point on Barnikow's serve to force duce and then won on their first break point when Barnikow's net volley sailed wide. Magley then served a love game for the match and give the Gators the clinching doubles victory for the team point.

"The way we played doubles in this championship really shows our commitment to improvement," UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. "Without a doubt, we were the best doubles team in this tournament, and we knew going in that that's going to be what it takes to win this championship."

Florida also led on the No. 2 doubles court, where Alexis Gordon and Julie Rotondi earned the first break of the match in 10th game to take a 6-4 lead against Alice Barnes and Amber Liu. Rotondi held in the next game, as the match was halted with the Gators leading 7-4.

The doubles matches began with on-court temperatures measured at 98 degrees and rose to 104 at the start of singles play. The schools had split sets on the six singles courts when lightening in the area forced a one hour and 24 minute weather delay. While most of the sell-out crowd of 1,132 left the Ring Tennis Complex, several returned when action resumed and on-court temperatures cooled to 88 degrees.

Freshman Jennifer Magley gave Florida a 2-0 lead after defeating Story Tweedie-Yates, who retired with Magley leading 6-4, 5-0 at the No. 6 position. The opening set was a battle, with neither player relinquishing her serve through the first eight games. Magley capitalized on her eighth game point to even the match at 4-all, which deflated Tweedie-Yates, as Magley earned the first break to take a 5-4 lead. She then held serve on her second set point. During that change-over, Tweedie-Yates requested trainer services, having her legs massaged. But it didn't seem to help, as Magley opened the second set with a break and held to take a 2-0 lead. She then won 13 of the next 14 points, taking a 5-0 lead and serving at 15-0 when Tweedie-Yates couldn't continue.

Stanford then earned its first team point after Erin Burdette handed Lindsay Dawaf a 6-1, 6-4 setback on the No. 3 court.

Sophomore Alexis Gordon then emerged with a tough 6-4, 7-5 victory over Emilia Anderson at the No. 5 position, giving Florida a 3-1 lead. Each player earned one break before Gordon snatched Anderson's serve on her second break opportunity to take the first set. The second set was on-serve at 3-all but Gordon trailed on her serve 30-40 when the weather delay came. Anderson won the first point after the return to the court and took the break and the 4-3 lead. But Gordon broke right back and then held at love for a 5-4 advantage. The next two game were service holds, before Gordon jumped out to a 15-40 lead on Anderson's serve in the 12th game and won on her first match-point.

Shortly afterward, Stanford's fourth-ranked Amber Liu topped Julia Scaringe in a deceiving 6-2, 6-1 decision. UF's Zerene Reyes battled hard against Alice Barnes at the No. 4 spot, but came up short 6-3, 6-3, as Stanford evened the team scoring at 3-all and all in attendance focused on Rotondi and the No. 2 court.

"Today, obviously, we were in a close match. We played with poise, played confidence and played smart. That's what got us the win," an enthusiastic Thornqvist said.

Julia Scaringe, UF's lone senior had the perfect send-off for her four-year career.

"It's the most perfect ending I think anyone could have ever planned out for me, especially just the way the entire year went. I just graduated, it's my birthday today and I'm leaving here just on the absolute highest note you ever possibly could," Scaringe said.

 

NCAA Women's Tennis Championship Final
Ring Tennis Complex, Gainesville, FL
Sunday, May 18, 2003

Final Score: Florida 4, Stanford 3

Doubles
1. Jennifer Magley/Zerene Reyes, Florida d. Lauren Barnikow/Erin Burdette, Stanford 8-5*
2. Alice Barnes/Amber Liu, Stanford vs. Alexis Gordon/Julie Rotondi, Florida DNF (4-7)
3. Lindsay Dawaf/Julia Scaringe, Florida d. Emilia Anderson/Story Tweedie-Yates 8-3

Singles
1. Amber Liu, Stanford d. Julia Scaringe, Florida 6-2, 6-1
2. Julie Rotondi, Florida d. Lauren Barnikow, Stanford 6-0, 7-5*
3. Erin Burdette, Stanford d. Lindsay Dawaf, Florida 6-1, 6-4
4. Alice Barnes, Stanford d. Zerene Reyes, Florida 6-3, 6-3
5. Alexis Gordon, Florida d. Emilia Anderson, Stanford 6-4, 7-5
6. Jennifer Magley, Florida d. Story Tweedie-Yates 6-4, 5-0 (Retired)

Order of Finish: Doubles: 3, 1; Singles: 6, 3, 5, 1, 4, 2

Championship Match Notes
This was Florida’s fourth NCAA team title (1992, 1996, 1998, 2003).

Florida was making its 10th appearance in the NCAA Final. This was Stanford's 17th appearance in the NCAA Final.

Stanford has won 12 NCAA titles, including three in Gainesville (1989, 1990, 1999).

This was the second different No. 1-ranked team the Gators have defeated this season (beat Duke 4-3 on March 26).

UF ends the season with its 14th undefeated home season (first time since 2000), posting an 18-0 record.

This is the second time a Gator team has won an NCAA title in Gainesville (women’s swimming & diving won in 1982).

This is the first NCAA team title won by a Florida team since the men’s golf squad captured the 2001 crown.

Stanford leads the all-time series 13-10, but owned a daunting 7-1 record against Florida in NCAA matches entering Sunday’s final.

Today was the eighth time the Cardinal and Gators have met in the title match, with Stanford claiming six of those decisions. UF’s other NCAA Final victory over SU was in 1996, when the Gators won its second crown and the match played in Tallahassee.

Today was the 22nd birthday of Julia Scaringe, Florida's lone senior.

Roland Thornqivst is just the seventh different head coach to win an NCAA Women’s Tennis title.

UF's Alexis Gordon has won 23 consecutive singles matches.

UF has won 20 consecutive home matches, including an 18-0 record this season.

This was UF’s 17th consecutive dual match victory.

Stanford had won 23 consecutive dual matches entering today’s final.

UF is 28-0 when winning the doubles point this season.

UF is 27-0 when Gator freshman Jennifer Magley wins her singles match.

On-court temperature at start of 1 p.m. match was 98 degrees. It rose to 105 at the start of singles play. It dropped to 88 degrees when play resumed at 5 p.m. after the weather delay.

Today's attendance was 1,132 (sellout).

All three times Florida has played host to the NCAA Championships and reached the team final (1992, 1999, 2003) has resulted in a sell-out, with fans being turned away at the gate.

This is the fifth time UF has played host to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships. Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex also welcomed the Championships in 1999, 1993, 1990 and 1989.

ESPN2 will air its coverage of the 2003 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships on Sunday, May 25th from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET.

END OF REPORT

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