No. 3 Florida Gators (21-1) women’s tennis captured the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (21-4) to bring the title back to Gainesville, FL for the third-straight season and eighth time in the last 11 years.
Competing at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center in Oxford, MS, Florida worked hard to clinch the doubles point and take an early advantage. Junior Caroline Hitimana and sophomore Olivia Janowicz lost the first doubles match 8-1, but the No. 1 duo of junior Allie Will/sophomore Sofie Oyen and No. 19 pairing of junior Lauren Embree/senior Joanna Mather each won their respective matches to give UF a 1-0 lead.
No. 23 Mather followed her doubles win with a dominant singles victory (6-4, 6-4), putting the Gators ahead 2-0. The Bulldogs got a point back as Lilly Kimbell defeated sophomore No. 68 Alex Cercone (6-3, 2-6, 6-3) but lost it just as quickly when No. 10 Embree came from behind to finish off No. 7 Chelsey Gullickson (3-6, 6-4, 7-5).
With three matches remaining, UF was looking for one more point to clinch the title while UGA was hoping to win three-straight in a major comeback effort.
Florida would not give Georgia that opportunity as No. 121 Hitimana earned a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory to clinch the win for the Gators.
No. 1 Will led her singles match (6-7, 7-5, 4-2) at the conclusion of the event, and No. 51 Oyen was fighting for a victory in her contest as well (4-6, 7-5, 5-5).
UF women’s tennis has now won 18 SEC Tournament titles and captured the SEC regular season championship 26 times in the team’s history. Florida will make its 30th appearance in the NCAA Tournament on May 11 as the Gators look to defend their national title.
Photo Credit: Sean Cartell