Gators tennis teams advance to Sweet 16

Sunday was a special day for the Florida Gators tennis program as both the No. 8 men’s and No. 2 women’s teams advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after sweeping their opponents on a sunny day at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL.

After a weather delay forced their contest to continue Sunday, the Florida men (20-8) got the day started early and shut out the No. 27 Miami Hurricanes (15-9) 4-0.

The No. 17 duo of senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. led the doubles teams, winning their match 8-2. Joining them to cinch the doubles point was junior Nassim Slilam and sophomore Billy Federhofer (7-6).

No. 7 Lacroix (6-1, 6-1), No. 89 Slilam (6-2, 6-2) and freshman Spencer Newman (6-0, 6-4) all won their singles matches; Newman’s victory clinched the contest for the Gators. Lacroix’s singles win propelled him to historic status. He is now the all-time overall wins leader in school history with 209 career victories.

The Florida women (27-1) wrapped up the afternoon in similar form, shutting out the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-11) 4-0 behind a strong team performance.

The 45th-ranked team of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen made short work of their opponents, beating them 8-2 for the Gators’ first doubles win. Freshman Olivia Janowicz and junior Joanna Mather followed them with an 8-3 victory, clinching the doubles point for Florida.

No. 7 sophomore Allie Will absolutely trounced No. 44 Anya Morgina of South Carolina, stifling her in straight sets (6-0, 6-0). Helping her complete the sweep for the Gators were No. 42 Mather (6-2, 6-2) and No. 54 freshman Alex Cercone (6-0, 6-3); the latter victory clinched the match.

Florida men’s and women’s tennis will play later this week in Stanford, CA. The men compete on Thursday at 3 p.m., while the women take the court on Friday at 3 p.m.

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FOUR BITS: tennis wins SEC, gym, Davis, Hill

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (22-1, 11-0 SEC) shutout the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-9, 4-7 SEC) 7-0 on Saturday to capture the outright 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship for the regular season at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The victory not only won Florida the SEC title and a No. 1 seed (including a bye) in the upcoming 2011 SEC Tournament, it was also the team’s 102nd consecutive regular season victory and 93rd-straight at home. The No. 8 doubles team of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone took down their No. 32-ranked opponents 8-4. No. 7 Will and No. 51 Cercone each won their singles matches, as did No. 20 sophomore Lauren Embree, No. 37 junior Joanna Mather, No. 49 freshman Olivia Janowicz and No. 104 freshman Sofie Oyen. The No. 43 duo of Embree and Oyen also won their doubles match earlier in the day.

2 » No. 5 Gators gymnastics was not as successful over the weekend, failing to advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Six team final by finishing fourth in Session II of the 2011 NCAA Championships semifinals. Florida finished with 196.125 points behind Alabama (197.05), Nebraska (196.85) and Utah (196.20). Fortunately for the Gators, three of the ladies advanced to the NCAA individual event finals on Sunday. Freshman Alaina Johnson will compete in vault, uneven bars and floor exercise; sophomore Marissa King will try her hand at vault and floor exercise; and senior Maranda Smith will participate in the floor exercise. All three were named to the All-American First Team.

3 » Florida 2012 running back commitment Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) won a Most Valuable Player award for his group at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA on Friday. “Mike did some incredible things,” Jake Campbell, running backs coach at the camp, told ESPN. “He has great lateral movement and change of direction. He’s terrific in the open field. He’s a true running back where things come so natural to him. He’s versatile and has soft hands. He’s also a strong ball carrier who really seems to understand the position.”

4 » Gators safety Will Hill, waiting to find out who will take a chance on him in the 2011 NFL Draft, participated in a local prospect day for the New York Giants on Thursday. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Mike Garafolo says Hill “has the Giants intrigued” to the point that they have “look[ed] into the personal side of things” regarding his character.

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TWO BITS: Baseball falls, tennis defeats FSU

1 » While Florida Gators fans in Gainesville, FL were busy cheering on the No. 14 basketball team to their first Southeastern Conference regular season title since 2007, those in Tampa, FL were in agony watching No. 5 Florida State Seminoles baseball (8-0) put together a five-run third inning and hold on to defeat No. 1 Florida (7-1) 5-3 on Tuesday. Taking part in the Florida Four event at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the two teams renewed their rivalry with FSU once again coming out on top. UF junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Toledo (0-1) was brushed off the mound quickly after giving up three earned runs on two hits and three walks in 2.1 innings. Junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis came in to stop the bleeding with one out in the third but coughed up four hits and a walk to allow Florida State to complete their impressive rally.

The Gators added a single run in the bottom of the third as junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) singled home freshman third baseman Zack Powers (1-4, R) and posted two more in the sixth on a rally with a RBI each from sophomore center fielder Kamm Washington (1-3, RBI, BB) and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (1-4, RBI). Scott Sitz (2-0) earned the win for the Seminoles, and closer Mike McGee (S1) got the save.

2 » Earlier in the day, No. 1 Florida women’s tennis (11-1) spanked No. 22 Florida State 6-1 on the road at Scott Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee, FL. The No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone led the way for the Gators with an 8-1 victory. Florida’s two other duos – No. 58 freshman Olivia Janowicz/junior Joanna Mather and No. 75 sophomores Lauren Embree/Caroline Hitimana were also victorious. No. 7 Will fell in singles competition, but No. 26 Embree, No. 35 Cercone, No. 34 Janowicz, No. 125 Hitimana and freshman Sofie Oyen all won their individual matches.

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FOUR BITS: swimming, gymnastics, tennis win

1 » The third day of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Swimming Championships, held at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, was just as eventful for the Florida Gators as the previous two. Senior Conor Dwyer, who had already set three SEC records combined, broke yet another on Friday by swimming the 400-yard individual medley in 3:37.75. Freshman Elizabeth Beisel matched his accomplishment on the women’s side, also breaking the SEC record in the individual medley with a time of 4:00.35. Both competitors, in addition to now owning the top SEC mark in the event, broke the pool and school records in the event. Though both teams are performing well, neither leads their gender’s team category. Saturday is the final day of competition.

2 » Performing in their home finale Friday, No. 1 Florida gymnastics (8-0, 5-0 SEC) remained unbeaten by defeating the No. 22 Auburn Tigers (2-5, 2-4 SEC) 196.850-194.950. The Gators once again swept the event titles with sophomore Marissa King winning the vault (9.95), senior Maranda Smith taking the floor exercise (9.90), freshman Mackenzie Caquatto conquering the uneven bars (9.90) and both Caquatto and freshman Ashanée Dickerson winning the balance beam (9.875).

3 » Competing in the round of 16 at the 2011 ITA National Team Indoor Championships Friday, No. 2 Florida women’s tennis (8-0) defeated the No. 9 Miami Hurricanes (5-1) 4-1. No. 7 sophomore Allie Will, No. 19 junior Joanna Mather and No. 31 freshman Olivia Janowicz all won their singles matches with the No. 30 duo of sophomore Lauren Embree and Mather also taking home a doubles win. The No. 1 doubles pairing of Will and freshman Sofie Oyen did not finish their doubles match (which they led 7-3); No. 36 Embree and No. 40 freshman Alex Cercone were tied in their respective singles matches but also did not finish.

4 » Also victorious in the round of 16 at the ITA Team Indoor Championships on Friday was No. 10 Gators men’s tennis (7-1), which defeated the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal 4-3 and gave head coach Andy Jackson his 400th career victory. Though the No. 15 duo of senior Alexandre Lacroix and junior Nasslim Slilam fell to their No. 11-ranked opponents, No. 9 Lacroix’s three-set 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over No. 7 Bradley Klahn, the defending NCAA singles champion, clinched the match for Florida. Slilam also lost his singles match, but No. 43 sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. was victorious both on his own and when paired up with freshman Andrew Butz. The Gators will advance to the quarterfinals for the second-straight year.

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SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

1 » Don’t bother asking them to, because it does not look like No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (6-0, 3-0 SEC) plans to slow down anytime soon. Drawing nearly 7,000 fans to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Friday, Florida took down the previously undefeated No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 1-1 SEC) 197.55-195.45. Gators freshman Mackenzie Caquatto led the team with two event wins (uneven bars, balance beam) and took the all-around title with a score of 39.575, while senior Maranda Smith captured the vault event and sophomore Marissa King won the floor exercise. Florida will be tested once again on Saturday as they face No. 4 Georgia on the road.

2 » Gators sophomore sprinter Jeff Demps and junior jumper Christian Taylor became the fourth and fifth members of the team, respectively, to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships after posting strong individual showings over the weekend at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet. Demps recorded a 6.57 in the men’s 60-meter dash, the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season, during his first race of the year. Taylor won the triple jump with a mark of 16.61m/54-6 for the sixth-straight time in his last six competitions. The duo join jumpers junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock and junior heptathlete Gray Horn as Florida’s current NCAA automatic-qualifiers off the No. 1 men’s track & field team.

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: gymnastics, track, tennis, softball

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SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

1 » Faced with elimination, top-seeded No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (41-4) rode past the No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (40-18) 5-4 in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (9-2) picked up the win, tossing 6.2 innings, striking out five and giving up three earned runs. Junior closer Kevin Chapman earned his 11th save of the season, though he did give up a run in the ninth and final inning of the game. Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (2-4) led the way with two RBI, and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-3) scored two runs. Florida will face Vanderbilt (41-16) in the second elimination game of the tournament Friday evening, airing live at ESPN3.com.

2 » Still making touchdowns – but now for the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL – former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker was faced with an injury scare Saturday night in a 46-44 win over the Cleveland Gladiators. “I thought I tore something,” Baker told The Florida Times-Union. Instead Baker, who scored twice during the game before falling to the turf, suffered a sprain according to an MRI exam after the game. He is second on the team this season with 416 yards and nine touchdowns in five games played.

Four more BITS on track & field qualifiers, tennis’ NCAA wins and losses and a Gator winning Rookie of the Year…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Baseball wins, Baker OK, seven Gators qualify, tennis updates, lacrosse rookie of year

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FOUR BITS: Baseball falls; two tennis Ws, one L

1 » Coming into the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament on a high after winning the SEC regular season title, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (40-14) was brought down a notch with a 10-6 loss to the defending national champion LSU Tigers in first-round action at Regions Park in Hoover, AL. LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo (4-2) gave up five earned runs in 7.2 innings but still outdueled Florida freshman Brian Johnson (5-4) who was lit up for seven earned runs in just 3.2 innings. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-5) led the way for the Gators with three RBI and a home run, but his efforts were not enough to stop the Tigers’ offensive onslaught. The loss marked only the second time all season Florida fell in back-to-back games; it did not remove them from the tournament, which is double-elimination. The Gators will compete Thursday in an elimination game that will air live on CSS and online at ESPN3.com.

2 » Though the Florida men’s tennis team was ousted early in the 2010 NCAA National Championship, individual players are still competing for singles and doubles titles. On Wednesday, No. 8-seed junior Alexandre Lacroix won his first-round match in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) over No. 104-ranked Charles Bottoni of East Tennessee State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. Lacroix will move on to face No. 32-seed Bassm Beidas of Pepperdine on Thursday. He will actually participate in two matches Thursday, also teaming with senior Antoine Benneteau in doubles competition.

3 » Members of the National Championship runner-up Gators women’s tennis team were not afforded much rest as two were already back in action Wednesday. No. 7-seed freshman Allie Will (47-4) won her first-round singles match against Washington State’s Liudmila Vassilieva easily (6-1, 6-1), advancing to the second round on Thursday.

4 » On the other hand, Will’s classmate Lauren Embree (32-6), who led Florida on Tuesday, surprisingly fell in her singles match. She lost 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 to California’s Mari Anderson and was bounced from the tournament. Both women will compete alongside seniors Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina in doubles action Thursday.

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No. 8 Stanford squeaks by No. 3 Florida for title

Starving off a near spectacular comeback, No. 8 Stanford Cardinal women’s tennis (26-1) captured the 2010 NCAA National Championship with a 4-3 defeat of the No. 3 Florida Gators (29-3) on Tuesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA.

The Gators were just two individual games away from defeat but battled back to force third sets in two singles matches while the Cardinal held a 3-2 lead. Florida sophomore Joanna Mather took down Stanford’s Carolyn McVeigh 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 in the second-to-last match, tying the score 3-3 and leaving the title in the hands of the final two competitors – senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra and No. 33 Mallory Burdette

After losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with Burdette by winning the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, Boonstra pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead. However, she ended up losing her final three games, allowing Burdette to tie it up and eventually reign victorious 7-5.

“My heart just aches for Marrit,” Gators head coach Ron Thornqvist said after the loss. “She has given this program everything she has. It’s just not fair for it to come down to a result like this for her. She’s going to be hurting for a long time. Our players will echo when I say that they love her for all she has done for them and how she gives them her heart. Marrit gave herself a chance in the match, leading 5-4 and was playing good tennis. It seemed like Mallory relaxed at 5-all and I thought that was the difference.”

The Gators won the doubles point with victories from the No. 29 duo of freshman Lauren Embree and Mather as well as the pair of freshman Carolina Hitimana and senior Anastasia Revzina. However, Florida’s No. 5-ranked team of Boonstra and freshman Allie Will uncharacteristically fell 8-4 to No. 2 Hilary Barte and Lindsay Brudette.

In singles action, No. 9 Embree held No. 4 Barte set-less with a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Mather joined her with a singles win, but No. 8 Will (6-3, 6-3), Boonstra, No. 102 Revzina (6-2, 6-2) and No. 107 Hitimana (6-3, 7-5) were all out-matched by Stanford.

“That was probably one of the better matches I’ve been involved with in a match of this magnitude,” Thornqvist reflected. “I thought we played terrific in doubles all year and today was no different. For some reason, we got off to a slow start in singles. It looked really grim there for a while, but just like we talked about all year long, we were resilient. I really thought our team showed tremendous courage, heart and pride. In the end we came up short, but I was really, really proud of our effort and our play in a championship round like this. Stanford played at a high level from the beginning of the match. In the first 20 minutes of singles, balls were whipping past us left and right. For us to slow that down and use our athleticism and neutralize some of that pace was great.”

The Gators women will now break apart from the team and compete in singles and doubles for individual NCAA National Championships beginning on Wednesday. Embree and Will are set to represent Florida in singles action, while Will/Boonstra and Embree/Revzina will pair in the doubles draw.

With the victory, the Cardinal captures their 16th title in 29 years and first over the Gators. Florida and Stanford squared off in the 2003 championship match with the Gators winning 4-3, but the Cardinal began their revenge with a 4-0 semifinal victory in 2006, the last time the two teams had faced until Tuesday.

Photo/Quote Credits: University of Florida

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