Florida women’s tennis sweeps Duke 4-0

No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (25-2) advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season with a 4-0 sweep of the No. 15 Duke Blue Devils (16-10) on Friday in Champaign, IL.

Florida improved to 27-3 all-time in round of 16 matches and is moving on to the quarterfinals for the eighth time in the last nine seasons as well as the 27th time in school history. UF has swept all three opponents they have faced in the NCAA Tournament, amassing a combined 12-0 match record so far in this year’s event.

The Gators were partially gifted the doubles point on Friday as the Blue Devils’ injuries made them unable to field a third doubles team. The No. 11 duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen cruised to an 8-1 victory to clinch the point.

Duke was also forced to forfeit a singles match due to injury, putting Florida up 2-0 before singles action even began. No. 123 junior Olivia Janowicz put UF ahead 3-0 by quickly dispatching of Nicole Lipp 6-1, 6-2, and No. 89 freshman Brianna Morgan earned a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Marianne Jodoin to clinch the match for the Gators.

Florida will remain in Champaign for the rest of the tournament as it looks to defend its back-to-back NCAA titles. The Gators have now won 15-straight NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2011 and are currently on an 18-match winning streak dating back to March 3. Florida will next take on No. 8 California on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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FOUR BITS: track, tennis, lacrosse, softball

1 » Neither the top-ranked men nor the third-ranked women were able to bring home a team title in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championship for the Florida Gators, but the track & field program did conclude the four-day event with five individual titles. Sophomore Kyle Strawn started things off on Thursday by winning the SEC title in the men’s hammer throw; his championship toss went 66.90m/219-6 and also marked a personal best. Florida added a second individual SEC crown on Friday when redshirt freshman Jimmy Clark gutted out a tough 10,000 meters in 29:44.54 to win the Gators’ first title in the event since 1987. Though Florida went title-less on Saturday, the Gators added three on Sunday to close the event. UF swept the triple jump with senior Omar Craddock (16.46m/54-0) and sophomore Ciarra Brewer (13.85m/45-5.25) defending their 2012 titles by winning the men’s and women’s championships, respectively. Freshman Marija Vucenovic also got in on the fun by winning the women’s javelin with a throw of 51.30m/168-4.

The Florida men (123.00) finished second to Arkansas (152.50), while the UF women (106.00) placed fourth. The Gators were hoping to win the athletic program’s ninth SEC team title of the season but must instead settle for a school record-tying eight as the league’s 2012-13 season has officially come to a close.

2 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis began competing in the 2013 NCAA Tournament over the weekend and swept both of its opponents, defeating the Marist Red Foxes and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 4-0 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Gators ran through the Red Foxes without dropping a single game, winning both doubles matches 8-0 and all three singles contests 6-0, 6-0. Georgia Tech was a tougher out for Florida but still went down rather easily as UF won the doubles point with 8-6 and 8-2 victories and took singles in short order. No. 1 senior Lauren Embree beat No. 98 Elizabeth Kilborn 6-0, 6-0 in her last home match, and No. 116 senior Caroline Hitimana led 6-1, 3-3 in her match but did not finish; both players were involved in victories that led to the doubles point. Embree received a standing ovation after he victory; she and Hitimana leave UF never having lost a team match (55-0) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. Action continues for Florida on Friday when it takes on Duke in a round of 16 match in Urbania, IL.

Read two more Gators news BITS (with an extra)…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: track, tennis, lacrosse, softball

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, WNBA, Muschamp, Embree

1 » Is former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow being “blackballed by NFL teams because of [his] cult-like following [and the] media frenzy” that follows him? That’s the headline of Yahoo! Sports writer Mike Silver’s most recent article, one that is perhaps not that far off from reality. Silver spoke to an NFC head coach who said as much. “He seems like a great guy to have on a team, and I’d be tempted to bring him in as our backup, but it’s just not worth dealing with all the stuff that comes with it,” he said. Silver also learned that New England head coach Bill Belichick, believed to be a fan of Tebow’s, “hates” Tebow as a player, that according to an “organizational source.” “No chance. Plus they wouldn’t like the circus that comes with it,” the source added.

If the fans and media are legitimately the reasons that Tebow is unemployed at this moment, the absurdity of that fact cannot be understated. In the NFL – and most professional leagues – talent is supposed to win out. If you are talented enough to play the game – and smart enough to stay out of the gutter off the field – coaches say you deserve a spot in the league or at the very least a chance to compete. The school you attended, spot you were drafted (if you were drafted at all), race, religion and sexuality are not supposed to matter. Now the message is that if fans like you and the media cover you (too much), you are not welcome. Even if one does not believe Tebow is a starting-caliber quarterback at this time, there are 32 NFL teams, which means there are 64 backup quarterback spots in the league. Try making an argument that Tebow is not talented enough to be a top-32 backup in the league or even deserving of tryouts with teams to showcase his abilities while second-round bust John Beck – a colossal bust of a second-round pick entering his seventh year as a professional with a 3-7 record and QB rating of 67.6 – is working with New Orleans this weekend.

2 » The WNBA may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Los Angeles Sparks have been one team that Gators fans have been able to pay attention to over the years. In this picture taken on Thursday, former Florida head women’s basketball coach Carol Ross (now Los Angeles’ head coach), current Gators assistant coach Murriel Page (UF alumna and former Sparks player) and former Florida guard Bridget Pettis all pose for a picture while doing the Gator Chomp.

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FOUR BITS: lacrosse, tennis, Moss, Sloan

1 » After having just player receive an individual honor in 2012, Florida Gators lacrosse swept the positional awards and took home a major coaching honor from the American Lacrosse Conference in 2013. Seniors Kitty Cullen (Offensive Player of the Year), Sam Farrell (Defensive Player of the Year), Brittany Dashiell (Midfielder of the Year) and Mikey Meagher (Goalie of the Year) each won the individual awards while head coach Amanda O’Leary was named Coach of the Year. Florida also saw five players – the aforementioned plus sophomore Shannon Gilroy named to the All-ALC First Team – with senior Ashley Bruns and senior Emily Dohony earning Second Team honors. Next up for the Gators is the 2013 ALC Tournament, which starts for Florida in the semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m.

2 » No. 1 Gators women’s tennis (22-2) was named the top overall seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and will host first- and second-round action in Gainesville, FL from May 11-12 as it looks to advance to the NCAA Round of 16. Florida opens up against Marist College (11-7) in the first round and will face the winner of No. 22 Georgia Tech (14-9) vs. No. 37 Yale (17-3). This will be the 15th consecutive year that UF is hosting the opening rounds of the tournament. Also announced this week were the three women’s tennis players who have earned the opportunity to compete for the 2013 NCAA Singles Championship; competition begins at the conclusion of the team tournament. Senior Lauren Embree (No. 1 overall seed), junior Alex Cercone and junior Sofie Oyen will all play in the 64-player draw with Embree and Oyen also teaming up for the 32-team 2013 NCAA Doubles Championship tournament.

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Florida’s Lauren Embree named SEC Player of the Year for third time; Gators pick up SEC awards

Florida Gators senior Lauren Embree was named the 2013 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday, becoming the first player in the history of the award to be honored with it three times in her career.

Embree, who was also named SEC Player of the Year in 2010 and 2012, is 39-0 for her career in singles matches during conference play. She is 17-0 overall this season and 10-0 against SEC opponents. Embree has also been a catalyst in the Gators winning eight total SEC Championships including four-straight SEC regular-season titles and four-straight SEC Tournament titles.

“It is really special to me,” Embree said in a school release. “I’ve never thought I’d be the first player to win this award so many times because there are and have been so many talented and great players in the SEC.

“I’m not really focused on awards. I just try and come out every day and win for the team and for my teammates. It’s an extra cool award to get and it’s something I want to thank my coaches and teammates who have helped me.”

Head women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist, who was named SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons, praised Embree just like he has throughout her entire career.

Continue Reading » Florida’s Lauren Embree named SEC Player of the Year for third time; Gators pick up SEC awards

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Florida women’s tennis sweeps Georgia to capture fourth-straight SEC Tournament Championship

WEEKEND: Gymnastics wins first NCAA title | Lacrosse routs Northwestern

The historic weekend for Florida Gators women’s athletics continued on Sunday when the second-ranked tennis team brought home the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship, winning the event for the fourth-straight season by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs 4-0 in Starkville, MS.

The Gators (22-2) have now swept the SEC regular season and tournament championships in each of the last four years, capturing 10 of the last 13 (and 18 of the last 23) SEC Tournament titles.

Florida seniors Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana, which became the first players to win a regular-season SEC title in each of their four years with the program, doubled-up on their historic accomplishments and are now a perfect 8-0 in league championship opportunities.

Though the Gators have struggled in doubles action this season, Florida took an early 1-0 lead by winning the point over the accomplished Bulldogs (21-3). The freshman duo of Danielle Collins and Brianna Morgan won 8-3 on court three, putting the onus on the No. 22 team of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen to come through in the clutch on court one. Embree and Oyen fought to the finish and won a tiebreak over the No. 1 duo of Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia to spot Florida the early advantage.

Though UGA gave a valiant effort in singles action, UF’s talent simply overwhelmed its long-time SEC East rivals.

Continue Reading » Florida women’s tennis sweeps Georgia to capture fourth-straight SEC Tournament Championship

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UF women’s tennis wins fourth-straight SEC title

No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis completed a four-peat for the fourth time in program history on Sunday by capturing a share of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championship with a 4-1 victory against the No. 18 Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN.

The Gators (19-2, 11-1 SEC) picked up their fourth SEC regular-season title in as many seasons and have now won seven in the last eight years. UF has captured 27 league titles in the 34 years that the SEC has sanctioned women’s tennis as a conference sport, making it the most successful women’s team in any sport in league history.

Florida is splitting the title three ways with No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 4 Georgia. UF fell 4-3 to TAMU but beat UGA 4-1. The Bulldogs took down the Aggies 4-2.

As has been a habit for the Gators this season, Florida started off Sunday’s contest in a 1-0 hole after dropping the doubles point to Vanderbilt (14-10, 7-6 SEC).

The Gators roared back in singles competition, however, winning four-straight matches to clinch the victory and a share of the title.

Junior No. 125 Olivia Janowicz finished first with a 7-5, 6-1 win. Junior No. 57 Alex Cercone soon followed with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 83 Georgina Sellyn. Senior No. 1 Laureen Embree made quick work of No. 59 Lauren Mira 6-2, 6-1, and junior No. 13 Sofie Oyen closed things out with a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Embree and senior Caroline Hitimana became the first classmates to win an SEC regular-season title in each of their four years at Florida.

Following Sunday’s contest, the Gators were awarded the No. 3 seed in the 2013 SEC Tournament, which is set to begin on Wednesday, after a three-way tie forced conference officials to conduct a drawing. Florida will have consecutive byes before participating in its first match on Friday at 6 p.m.

UF and TAMU are set up to potentially go head-to-head in the semifinals as UGA picked up the event’s No. 1 overall seed.

The Gators are also looking to capture their fourth-straight SEC Tournament title.

Florida’s title win on Sunday marked the athletic program’s seventh league regular-season championship of the 2012-13 athletic season.

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SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow

1 » Despite ending their 2013 NCAA Tournament run in the Elite Eight for the third-straight year, Florida Gators basketball was placed at No. 9 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 poll of the 2012-13 season. Florida was not the only Elite Eight team to fall outside the top eight of the poll, however, as Marquette checked in at No. 11 in the final rankings. Indiana (Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse) and Kansas (Sweet 16 loss to Michigan) took the two other spots in the top eight. The Gators also checked in at No. 9 and No. 10 in 2011-12 and 2010-11, respectively, after losing in the Elite Eight. Florida will likely enter the 2013-14 campaign ranked in the preseason top-10.

2 » No. 2 Gators women’s tennis (17-2, 10-1 SEC) ran through its competition over the weekend, extending their winning streaks to 10 consecutive team matches and 30-straight individual matches. Florida swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-10, 4-6 SEC) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-12, 1-10 SEC) in a pair of home showdowns over the weekend at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The Gators won all 11 matches and had the opportunity to celebrate Senior Day against the Bulldogs on Sunday. Seniors No. 1 Lauren Embree and No. 125 Caroline Hitimana were each unable to finish their singles matches due to Florida registering a quick 4-0 victory but both won their doubles contests. The No. 20 duo of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen picked up an 8-2 win, while Hitimana and junior Alex Cercone won 8-0.

On Monday, head coach Roland Thornqvist praised Embree at his press conference, making note of her incredible career and tremendous work ethic. “You want to know why Lauren Embree is the best college player to ever play the game?” he asked rhetorically. “It was Monday morning at 8:30, and after a weekend full of matches and practices, she runs to the courts, hits serves for 30 minutes, then I show up and we go at it [on the court] for an hour and 15 minutes. By 10:00, she’s done with two workouts already while the rest of tennis America is still sleeping. That’s why we’re good and that’s why she’s good. She sets the tone, the bar is high, and I think everybody feeds off of it. We’ve just been blessed to have that for four years. Frankly, it’s just amazing.” The Gators women’s tennis program is hoping to win its third-straight national title.

Read four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow

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