Three-peat thwarted: Stanford upsets Florida women’s tennis 4-3 in NCAA Tournament semifinal

No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis entered the 2013 NCAA Tournament hoping to achieve the second national championship three-peat in school history. Instead, Florida was dealt a stinging 4-3 defeat by the No. 12 Stanford Cardinal in the semifinals of the event, sending the Gators home from Champaign, IL a day early.

Stanford, the last team to beat Florida in NCAA play when it topped UF for the 2010 national title, snapped the Gators’ 16-match NCAA Tournament winning streak on Monday by outworking the favorites in doubles play and singles action. UF was participating in its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament semifinal and looking to advance to the event’s finals for the fourth consecutive season.

Florida’s year-long struggles in doubles were a factor as the teams of No. 11 senior Lauren Embree/junior Sofie Oyen and junior Alex Cercone/senior Caroline Hitimana both dropped their matches 8-3. It was the 10th time this season that the Gators lost the doubles point and faced an early 1-0 deficit.

The Cardinal, which fell to UF 4-2 in Gainesville, FL on Feb. 24, also won the doubles point that day, but the home team came back and won four singles matches.

Florida (26-3) and Stanford (21-4) split the first sets, but the Cardinal quickly increased their lead substantially by pulling off two relatively easy singles victories.

Continue Reading » Three-peat thwarted: Stanford upsets Florida women’s tennis 4-3 in NCAA Tournament semifinal

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Florida women’s tennis tops Cal 4-2, advances to fourth-straight NCAA Tournament semifinal

No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (26-2) advanced to the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season with a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 California Golden Bears (19-6) on Sunday in Champaign, IL.

Florida improved to 23-5 all-time in quarterfinal matches and is moving on to the semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine seasons as well as the 23rd time in school history. UF swept the first three opponents it has faced in the NCAA Tournament and now holds a combined 16-2 match record in this year’s event.

The Gators started things off with the No. 11 duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen winning four-straight games to clinch the doubles point with an 8-4 victory over the No. 33 team of Lynn Chi and Anett Schutting. Freshmen Danielle Collins and Brianna Morgan, Florida’s third doubles team, had previously won their match 8-4 to put Embree/Oyen in position to clinch the point.

When the six singles matches got underway, the Gators were able to pull off four first-set victories. However, the Golden Bears knotted things up at 1-1 as No. 5 Zsofi Susanyi routed No. 51 junior Alex Cercone in straight sets (6-1, 6-1).

Cal was not able to hold even with Florida as No. 1 Embree quickly got the lead back for UF by taking down No. 8 Schutting with ease 6-2, 6-0. Junior No. 123 Olivia Janowicz added to the lead by beating Tayler Davis just minutes later 6-1, 6-4.

The Golden Bears drew closer when No. 43 Klara Fabikova upset No. 17 Oyen (7-5, 6-4), reducing the Gators’ advantage to 3-2 with three matches in progress. It only took senior No. 116 Caroline Hitimana a few moments to shut the door on the quarterfinals, however, as she closed out a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Annie Goransson to clinch the match.

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 16-straight NCAA Tournament matches dating back to 2011 and are currently on a 19-match winning streak dating back to March 3. Florida will next take on No. 12 Stanford on Monday at 6 p.m.

The Gators beat the Cardinal previously this season, 4-2 on Feb. 24. in Gainesville, FL, but UF suffered its last NCAA Tournament loss at the hands of SU, which won 4-3 in the 2010 national championship game.

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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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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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FOUR BITS: track titles, baseball, tennis, lacrosse

1 » Though it did not have the same team success that the swimming program did over the weekend, Florida Gators track & field still put together an impressive overall performance at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships. Florida’s men (117.00) finished second and the women (87.50) came in fourth to Arkansas, which won both titles (152.50, 114.50). The Gators captured six individual SEC titles overall.

2013 SEC Individual Titles (6)

» Men’s 60-meter hurdles – Eddie Lovett (7.54 seconds)* [third-straight]
» Men’s long jump – Marquis Dendy (8.25m/27-0.75)* [back-to-back]
» Men’s weight throw – David Triassi (21.59m/70-10)
» Men’s 800 meters – Sean Obinwa (1:48.40)
» Women’s mile – Cory McGee (4:35,33) [second in three years]
» Women’s distance medley relay – Mandy Perkins, Amani Bryant, Agata Strausa, Cory McGee (11:13.45)

2 » Florida baseball (3-5) got swept right out of the top 25 over the weekend as the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (5-1) outscored their hosts 23-9 over three games from Friday-Sunday. The Gators have now lost four-straight games, and their schedule does not get easier going forward. Florida is set to face Miami in a three-game series Friday-Sunday and opens up SEC play on March 15. Seven league teams are currently ranked including Arkansas (2), Vanderbilt (3), LSU (4), South Carolina (8), Mississippi State (13), Kentucky (15) and Ole Miss (17).

3 » On Sunday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in front of a crowd of 1,033, the second-largest in program history, No. 4 Gators women’s tennis came from behind to defeat the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal 4-2. Florida (6-1) and Stanford (4-2) have split the last four meetings between the programs in NCAA play with the Gators earning the home victory after losing the doubles point. Florida knotted the match at 1-1 when junior Olivia Janowicz won her contest 6-2, 6-2 but soon fell behind 1-2 as No. 33 Ellen Tsay took down freshman No. 44 Danielle Collins by the same score. UF jumped back on top 2-1 when junior No. 9 Sofie Oyen beat No. 68 Kristie Ahn 6-2, 6-2 and took a 3-1 lead as junior No. 116 Alex Cercone upset No. 10 Krista Hardebeck 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The remaining showdowns went back-and-forth but it was eventually freshman Brianna Morgan who won her second match point against No. 98 Stacy Tan to earn a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory and deliver a big win for the Gators.

4 » No. 3 Florida lacrosse (6-0) remained undefeated after earning a 17-7 victory over the Albany Great Danes (0-1) on Sunday. The Gators jumped 3-0 in the early going and held a 12-3 lead at the half, cruising in the second half for the double-digit win. Sophomore Shannon Gilroy led the way with five goals on six shots. senior Ashley Bruns (four) and senior Kitty Cullen (three) combined for seven of the other 10 goals. Florida’s next opponent is No. 6 Syracuse, the team that won a controversial overtime match over UF in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The schools will go head-to-head in Miami Gardens, FL on Saturday.

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14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.

» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.

» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.

Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 14 Gator Bites for Tuesday, February 19

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