GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Fourth-ranked Florida earned a 6-1 victory against 18th-ranked Clemson on Friday at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex, where the Gators extended their overall home winning streak to 111 matches.
“This Clemson team is really good, every bit as good as North Carolina and Duke,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “They gave us everything we could handle.”
Florida’s home streak is the longest active winning streak by any women’s team in any sport in NCAA Division I competition. Only the Ohio State men’s tennis team sports a longer active home win streak, carrying a 156 home win streak.
Florida (5-1) won the doubles point and Clemson evened the team scoring when Liz Jeukeng defeated Sofie Oyen (Belgium) 6-2, 6-1 on court two.
The Gators then collected wins on the singles courts from Brianna Morgan, Danielle Collins, Alexandra Cercone, Olivia Janowicz and Lauren Embree to secure the team victory.
Freshman Brianna Morgan quickly put Florida back in the lead after she earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Romy Kolzer. There were five breaks in the first set and Morgan emerged with a 4-2 lead and held for a 5-2 advantage. She then broke again to win the first set and carried that momentum into the second where she won the first three games before Kolzer finally held. The two competitors traded breaks in the sixth and seventh games before Morgan captured one final break to close out the match and improve to 5-0 in dual match action while giving Florida the 2-1 advantage.
Fellow Gator Danielle Collins then gave Florida a 3-1 lead with her 6-1, 6-4 win versus Ani Miao on court five. Collins enjoyed a quick first set before Miao began to fight back, taking a 2-0 lead to start the second. Collins broke and got the frame back on serve and the set remained a battle until Collins finally broke again in the ninth game and served out for the one hour and 26-minute victory.
Junior Alexandra Cercone provided the clinching victory as she earned a hard-fought 7-6 (4), 6-4 decision that lasted two hours and two minutes against Beatirce Gumulya on court three. The win against the No. 57th-ranked Tiger was the highest-ranked foe Cercone has defeated this season.
The two remaining matches on court continued to play out as Gator junior Olivia Janowicz defeated Tirsten Dewar, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and nine minutes and improved to 20-5 overall this season.
Senior Lauren Embree staged one of her patented three-set rallies, as she was trailing 5-3 in the third set against Yana Koroleva and battled back for the 6-1, 1-6, 7-6 (2) win that lasted two hours and 25 minutes to extend her dual match singles win streak to 22.
“Yana[Koroleva] was spectacular [on Friday],” Thornqvist said. “That was big time tennis. In the third set, we had to make sure we had good depth because [Koroleva] likes to change direction of the ball and we needed to make sure that when she did it, she was behind the baseline. Once Lauren [Embree] calmed down and started to do a better job of that, she got some better looks and chances for breaks. It was a fabulous match.”
The doubles matches on courts one and two finished at nearly the same moment, with Clemson’s Beatrice Gumulya and Tirsten Dewar completing their 8-4 win on court two against Collins and Janowicz just one shot before Florida’s Embree and Oyen knocked off Koroleva and Kolzer 8-4 leaving court three to decide the important doubles point.
As both of those matches came to an end, Cercone and Morgan were receiving with a 7-4 lead against Miao and Jeukeng. Game 12 featured three match-points for the Gators and six game points for the Tigers, who held serve after 21 minutes and forced Morgan to serve for the match. The Gators needed to fight off one break point before finally capturing the 8-5 win in one hour and 21 minutes and the doubles point for the 1-0 lead in the team scoring.