Top-Ranked Gators Take Out USF In Season-Opener
Senior All-American Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) won her 98th career singles match and posted her 99th doubles win and helped top-ranked Florida win its 29th consecutive season-opener with a 7-0 victory against South Florida Tuesday afternoon at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
“Of all the positives I’ll take from our match today, our play in doubles is what I’m most pleased with,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist shared. “Another big difference in our program this year is Tyler Stuart, our new strength and conditioning coach. We look stronger than we ever have and a lot of credit goes to him. You can tell in our core and our shoulders, the way we’re coming in. This is the best and strongest we’ve ever looked.”
Playing for the first time as the nation’s top-ranked singles player, Sofie Oyen (Leopoldsburg, Belgium) was impressive in her 6-1, 6-2 victory against Danielle Mills on court 2, where the Gator junior needed 61 minutes to give Florida a 2-0 lead in the team scoring. Oyen held serve throughout the first set, earning breaks in the second and fifth games to close out the frame in 26 minutes. The two began the second trading breaks before Oyen collected her fourth of the match and held for a 3-1 lead. Mills won the next two games, but Oyen broke again and served out at love for the victory.
Fifth-ranked Embree held serve throughout her match en route to a 6-1, 6-1 win against No. 50 Lereto Alonso Martinez, as she improved to 98-14 in her singles career. Embree’s winning percentage ranks as the third best in UF history. The Gator senior held at love to begin the match and lost just one point against Alonso Martinez’s serve in the second game en route to a quick 3-0 lead. The Bull held in the fourth game, but Embree took charge of the next seven games as she took the first set and a 4-0 lead in the second. The fifth game was a long one, but Alonso Martinez finally held, but Embree charged right back and lost just one point on her next serve before capitalizing on her third match point in the ensuing game to earn the win.
Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) won her collegiate dual match debut with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Fanny Fracassi on court three. The Gator rookie was in a battle throughout her first set that featured seven service breaks. Collins came out with the final and most important one in the 12th game as she broke to capture the first frame. She carried that momentum into the second set, where she won the first three games before Fracassi called for a medical timeout. She returned to the court but wasn’t the same, as Collins bageled the set and provided the clinching dual match victory.
Caroline Hitmana (Waterloo, Belgium) was the next off the court, as she provided a 6-4, 6-0 win against Kate Parker. Similar to Collins’ match, Hitimana’s first set also had seven breaks and the Gator senior emerged with the final one in the 10th game where she broke at love and took that energy into the second set, blanking Parker en route to the victory.
Brianna Morgan (Beverly Hills, Calif.) notched her first collegiate dual match singles win with a 6-2, 6-2 decision against Alessandra Bonte on court five. There were several duce games throughout the match, including the second one of the set that kept the match on-serve early. Morgan held a 5-1 lead in the opening frame, but Bonte held and fought off the Gator rookie’s serve. Morgan held steady and broke in the next game to take the first set. The two competitors exchanged serves to begin the second and Morgan earned the first break to take a 4-1 lead after holding. She broke again for the 5-1 lead and later took Bonte’s serve one last time in the final game for the match.
Olivia Janowicz (Palm Bay, Fla.) was the last off the court, as she rallied from a slow start for the 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory against Paula Montoya. The Gator junior lost her serve to open the match and couldn’t quite take the lead despite earning two breaks. Janowicz returned the court after dropping that first set and marched out to a 4-0 lead and eventually the second set to force a deciding third, where she again took a 4-0 lead. Montoya prevented the third-set shutout by holding in the fifth game, as Janowicz won the final two games to cap the team sweep.
“We had some nerves but were able to play our way out of that,” Thornqvist said. “Most of our players have been there with the ESPN camera on their court, in their face and the tension of a match and they’ve learned to play through it. Our two freshmen did a good job of that today. It’s their first time wearing the Gator uniform and it’s going to take a bit to play through those nerves. They did a good job.”
Florida took the doubles point by winning the matches on courts one and two and was leading 7-3 on court three when play was abandoned.
The pair of Danielle Collins and Olivia Janowicz was efficient in their 8-1 victory against Alessandra Bonte and Lereto Alonso Martinez, as the pair needed just 35 minutes to improve to 9-2 overall as a tandem. The Bulls held to begin the match, before Collins, who did not lose a point on either of her service games, won an impressive game and helped the Gators win the next eight games to capture the win, one that marked the 49th career doubles victory for Janowicz.
Lauren Embree and Sofie Oyen provided the second win of the dual match with an 8-4 victory against Kayla Rizzolo and Danielle Mills on court one and captured the doubles point for the Gators. The Florida pair held double-match point in the 10th game of the eight-game pro-set but couldn’t close out the win, as the Bulls held and forced Embree to serve out for the victory, which she did and secured the 99th doubles win of her distinguished career. Embree, whose career record stands at 99-18, aims to become the 13th Gator to reach the 100-win mark for doubles.
Embree is now tied with current Gator volunteer assistant coach Anastasia Revzina for 14th in UF history for career doubles wins.
“The pace of our (court one) doubles team was extraordinary,” Thornqvist said. “The South Florida team did a great job of hitting the ball hard and tried to be creative. I thought Lauren and Sofie were excellent. They handled the pace and top it at times and were the more creative team.”
Alexandra Cercone (Seminole, Fla.) and Brianna Morgan jumped out to a 4-1 lead on court three against Fanny Fracassi and Paula Montoya, who held and got a break. The Gators, however, came right back with a break and Morgan held for the 6-3 lead. UF earned another break but play was halted once Embree and Oyen closed out the doubles point win.
“I thought Alex and Brianna were creative, as well,” Thornqvist said. “That’s the key for us in playing good doubles, we have to be creative. We have to have a purpose with our play and we did that.”
The Gators return to action on Wed., Jan. 30 when they play host to UCF (2-0) beginning at 3 p.m. Admission is free, as is parking in the UF Law School lot located next to Ring Tennis Complex, as restrictions have been waived.
Mississippi State Sweeps Southern Miss in 2013 Debut
STARKVILLE, Miss. - In their first match of the 2013 dual match season, Mississippi State Lady Bulldog tennis claimed an impressive 7-0 victory against in-state rival Southern Miss Tuesday on campus.
The Lady Bulldog squad kicked off the match by taking the doubles point with impressive wins from the No. 2 and 3 positions. Freshman newcomers Lien Van Geel and Sarai Flores were the first to secure a victory, taking down Macie Case and Emily Nettles of Southern Miss in a dominant 8-0 decision on court 3. Petra Ferancova and Roseline Dion followed suit, posting an 8-1 win against Alexus Coats and Elanor Grossman at No. 2 to put MSU up 1-0 overall. Play was then suspended on court 1, with State's Naomi Tran and Georgiana Patrasc up 6-4 against Kate Lanier and Lauren May of the Golden Eagles.
Singles competition began with a quick 6-0, 6-0 sweep for Dion against USM's Case at the No. 5 position to put the Lady Bulldogs up 2-0 overall. The rookie Flores extended the MSU lead to 3-0 with a solid 6-2, 6-0 win over Emily Nettles on court 6.
Making her dual match debut at the No. 1 position, the State freshman Patrasc clinched the Maroon and White team win with a 6-0, 6-2 triumph against Golden Eagle senior Kate Lanier.
Van Geel continued the Bulldog winning streak, defeating USM's Grossman in a 6-2, 6-4 decision on court 3.
Ferancova posted the team's sixth point, winning 10-straight games to come back from a 5-3, first-set deficit and claim a 7-5, 6-0 triumph against Lauren May on court 4.
MSU's Tran then secured the 7-0 sweep for the Lady Bulldogs with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 win at the No. 2 position against Coats of USM.
"Today was a good win. The girls played well. This was definitely a good win to get under our belts, and get rid of the first-game jitters. We need to be a little smoother, a little smarter, and hopefully we can build on this going into Sunday," said head coach Daryl Greenan.
The Lady Bulldogs will be at home once again as they take on the Lady Cougars of Houston on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. CT. Updates for Lady Bulldog tennis can be found at hailstate.com or through Twitter (@mstateWT).