Florida 4, Southern California
Florida 4, Southern California 2May 20, 2005
ATHENS, Ga. -- University of Florida junior Jennifer Magley has played in several big matches during her career, but Friday night she took her game to another level, clinching the Gator's 4-2 victory over seventh-seeded Southern California (19-4) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women's Tennis Championships.
Magley struggled with her serve after winning the first set, but lost the second set and was forced to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the third before emerging with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over ninth-ranked Nicole Leimbach to send Florida to the NCAA semifinals for the 17th time in the last 19 years.
"I don't think she's been in that isolated, spotlight situation that I can recall," said UF head coach Roland Thornqvist, who collected his 100th victory as Gator head coach. "I was really pleased to see that. Today, Jennifer played against a highly ranked player on center court in the quarterfinals of the NCAAs and got the win."
Magley was receiving, down 3-1 in the third set, but battled to get the break and then held to even the match at 3-all. She then earned the important break in the seventh game and held to take a 5-3 lead, capitalizing on her third match point to break Leimbach in the final game to win her ninth consecutive singles match in two hours and 22 minutes.
"My serve couldn't have been worse and I kept wondering when the all-knowing Coach Thornqvist would come over and give me a tip," Magley said. "He came over and told me to slice the ball a little more and I started getting the ball into the court more. That was all I needed to do to have an opportunity to win."
Junior Boglarka Berecz set the stage for Magley's heroics with some competitive tennis of her own. Berecz, who has battled injury and illness, was in the lineup and took the court for the first time since her dramatic singles victory against Kentucky's Danielle Petrisko 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the final of the SEC Tournament on April 24. On Friday, Berecz defeated Judy DeVera 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 12 minutes to post her ninth consecutive singles win and give the Gators a 3-2 lead.
"Boglarka has been through so much over the last month, with her wrist injury and the stomach illness, she just wanted to get back on the court so badly," Thornqvist said. "Her desire really showed up tonight. She's one of the toughest competitors we've had here and that's why she's so good."
Berecz trailed 5-0 in the first set before settling down and finding her stroke. Eight of the nine games in the second set were service breaks, but Berecz was the benefactor of the one game that was not, holding in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. She won the long opening game of the deciding set and then dominated the final five games.
"In the first set I had to find my way back," Berecz said. "Everything finally started coming together and I closed it out. I'm real satisfied with how I played considering everything I've dealt with recently. I played hard and competed."
Florida (22-2), the No. 2 seed, plays 11th-seeded Texas (24-5) in the semifinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Top-seeded Stanford plays 12th-seeded Clemson in the other semifinal match.
A Texas-Florida semifinal match-up is a return to the mid-90s when the two programs met regularly deep in NCAA action. While the Gators lead the all-time series against the Lady Longhorns 22-8, the teams are tied at 3-3 in NCAA play. The last postseason meeting was the least dramatic, with UF earning a 5-0 win in the 1998 quarterfinal round en route to winning the program's third NCAA title. The real drama came in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995, when Texas won those final three decisions, including the 1995 meeting in the final where the Longhorns rallied for a 5-4 victory to claim the national championship. The first NCAA meeting was in the 1992 final, when the Gators emerged with a 5-3 victory to capture their first-ever NCAA crown.
Sophomore Nina Suvak gave the Gators their first singles victory of the NCAA quarterfinal round, defeating 53rd-ranked Anca Anastasiu 6-4, 6-4, marking the highest-ranked opponent she has defeated during her career. There was just one break in the first set, and Suvak took the advantage in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead before holding to take the opening frame. She then broke again to begin the second set, before Anastasiu evened the set at 3-all with a break of her own. But Suvak broke right back and then held the rest of the way, holding at love in the final game for the win.
"I didn't really feel good coming into today's match, but after playing doubles where Lolita (Frangulyan) did an unbelievable job of picking me up, I felt different," Suvak said "I just kept hitting the ball and knew that I wanted to win so badly. I was fighting until the end."
Shortly before Suvak's victory, USC evened the dual match at 1-all when Lindsey Nelson defeated Zerene Reyes 6-1, 6-4, snapping the Gator senior's 12-match win streak. Freshman Alex Liles then lost her No. 5 singles battle to Carine Vermeulen 6-4, 7-6 (5), as USC again tied the dual match, 2-all. UF freshman Whitney Benik was serving for the match, leading 40-30, 5-3 in the third set against Dianne Matias when play was halted.
"On every court we gave it every ounce we had," Thornqvist praised. "I couldn't be more proud of our team."
The start of the match was delayed one hour and 24 minutes due to rain and a second delay followed two minutes later (2:26 p.m.), but finally resumed for good at 5:17 p.m.
Florida didn't seem bothered at all by two rain delays that ultimately delayed the start of the match for two hours and 17 minutes, as its No. 3 doubles team of Lolita Frangulyan and Nina Suvak raced out to a 5-0 lead behind three breaks against Judy DeVera and Carine Vermeulen. The USC duo finally got on the board breaking Frangulyan in the sixth game, but the rest of the match was played on serve as the Gator pair earned the 8-4 victory, winning their fourth consecutive NCAA doubles match in as many rounds.
That match clinched the doubles point for the Gators, but it was on court No. 1 where Florida showed its strength, as the veteran duo of Jennifer Magley and Zerene Reyes needed just 27 minutes to topple Lindsey Nelson and Anca Anastasiu 8-3. That court started 16 minutes later than the other two waiting for the court to dry. The Gator tandem began the match winning the first eight points and rode that game-opening break into the ninth game where they earned another before polishing off with a third break in the 11th and final game to take the victory.
The win was a milestone one for Reyes, who collected her 100th career doubles victory and became just the fifth Gator ever to win 100 singles and doubles matches, joining legends Stephanie Nickitas, Nicole Arendt, Jessica Lehnhoff and Dawn Buth. Reyes is just the ninth Gator to win 100 doubles matches during her career.
UF's No. 2 team of Whitney Benik and Alex Liles were on serve, leading 7-6 against Nicole Leimbach and Dianne Matias when play was halted.
#2 FLORIDA 4, #7 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 2
1. Jennifer Magley and Zerene Reyes-9 (UF) def. Lindsey Nelson and Anca Anastasiu-45 (USC), 8-3
2. Whitney Benik and Alex Liles (UF) vs. Nicole Leimbach and Dianne Matias (USC), 7-6, susp.
3. Boglarka Bercez and Lolita Frangulyan (UF) def. Judy DeVera and Carine Vermeulen (USC), 8-4
1. Jennifer Magley-5 (UF) def. Nicole Leimbach (USC), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
2. Lindsey Nelson (USC) def. Zerene Reyes-13 (UF), 6-1, 6-4
3. Nina Suvak (UF) vs. Anca Anastasiu-53 (USC), 6-4, 6-4
4. Whitney Benik (UF) vs. Dianne Matias-94 (USC), 6-0, 3-6, 5-3, susp.
5. Carine Vermeulen (USC) def. Alex Liles (UF), 6-4, 7-6(5)
6. Boglarka Bercez-77 (UF) vs. Judy DeVera (USC), 3-6, 6-3, 6-0
Florida 4, Southern California 2
Florida Head Coach Roland Thornqvist
Happy to see that Jennifer[Magley] kept playing. She hasnt been in that kind of isolated spotlight situation too much lately. She is usually one of the first ones finished. It was great though to see her clinching on centre court at the NCAA Championships. Overall I felt we fought for every game.
Texas is a bit of a surprise to make it through. We definately thought that Kentucky would take care of business. Texas is different from a typical SEC team; they dont try to grind it out. They are a better ball striking team that tries to slap the ball around the court. Since they are a big shot team well try to make them grind it out a bit more tomorrow.
Floridas Boglarka Bercez
Were so excited to be in the NCAAs so you have to give it all youve got when youre on the court.
Its been tough not to play. Its always tough though for whoever has to sit out, but you have to do whats best for the team. In the first set I had to try to find my way back, but it came together and I finally closed it out.
Floridas Jennifer Magley
It was exciting to clinch, but I wanted to win the third set no matter what. This year we really feel like we need to win.
I told the team today before the match, If we dont [give it all weve got] today, then there is no tomorrow.
Southern California Head Coach Richard Gallien
This is one time when it feels like youre the worlds only living heart donor. It hurts really bad right now. Its hard especially to go from the highest high last night to the opposite tonight.
Its a little worse because weve had a lot of success against Texas. Today though, I credit Florida with a win more than a loss for us. I thought that after the emotion of last night our team might come in here emotionally drained, but we still fought hard tonight, and I credit our girls for a great effort.
-- Courtesy Georgia