No. 2 Florida outlasts No. 5 Duke
Gators extend home win streak to 102 matches with 5-0 victory
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Second-ranked Florida earned a hard-fought and weather-shortened 5-0 victory against fifth-ranked Duke Wednesday afternoon at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
It was the stiffest test of the season for the Gator’s home win streak, which grew to 102 consecutive victories thanks in part to Florida’s quick start on the doubles courts where the squad won all three matches and earned the first point of the dual match. The Gators earned singles wins on courts numbers two, three, four and six before lightening was detected within a five-mile radium of the tennis complex that forced the stoppage of play on the remaining two courts. Due to Duke’s travel schedule and the weather outlook for the next couple of hours in Gainesville, play on courts one and five were abandoned.
Junior All-American Lauren Embree, who was involved in the first doubles win of the day, won the first 10 games against Hanna Mar en route to a dominating 6-0, 6-2 victory on court two.
Junior Caroline Hitimana was next off the court when she posted a convincing 6-1, 6-0 win against Monica Turewicz and gave Florida a 3-0 lead in the team scoring. It was Hitimana’s ninth consecutive singles victory, as well as her 16th straight singles win in dual match competition.
Senior Joanna Mather provided the clinching dual match victory with a 6-3, 6-1 decision against Ester Goldfeld on court three. The first set featured several duce games and three service breaks midway through the frame, as Goldfeld broke and inched closer to getting the set back on-serve with Mather leading 3-2. The Gator’s lone senior, however, broke right back in the sixth game and both competitors held thru the set with Mather claiming it 6-3. She then raced out to a 4-0 lead before Goldfeld held serve, but Mather continued her momentum and won the final two games for the straight-set victory.
Sofie Oyen tacked on another team point after she regrouped from dropping the first set to earn a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory against Mary Clayton on court four. The win was the Gator sophomore’s team-leading 14th consecutive, as she improved to 18-2 overall and 11-0 in dual match action.
“We played great,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I thought we played excellent tennis on all six courts. It was great tennis out there. We were tough. We were running. We were defending well. We’re tough to beat when we play like this. Today we saw real Gator tennis.”
The Gators received the early boost in the team scoring by winning the doubles point, as Florida captured the victory on all three courts.
The pair of Lauren Embree and Joanna Mather raced out to a 5-0 lead against Hanna Mar and Annie Mulholland, before the Duke duo stormed back and won five straight games and tied the 8-game pro-set. Mather ended the run with an overhead smash for a winner that shifted the momentum back to the Gators, who earned a quick break and held for the 8-5 win and the first individual result of the day.
Florida’s Alexandra Cercone and Olivia Janowicz were next to post a final, as they defeated Mary Clayton and Monica Gorny, 8-4 on court three and clinched the doubles point. After the Gators held to begin the match, the next four games went to duce and Florida emerged from the stretch with a 4-1 lead, up a break. The Gators broke again in the eighth game and held for a 7-2 lead. They couldn’t finish on a few match points in the next game and lost serve in the one after that, but managed one final break to capture the important first point in the team scoring.
The third-ranked tandem of Sofie Oyen and Allie Will polished off the sweep of doubles competition with its 8-6 win against 19th-ranked Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan. Florida jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind a pair of breaks. Duke got one back in the seventh game, but couldn’t make up another, as the Gators held serve the rest of the way and earned one final break it he 14th game to earn the victory. The decision marked Will’s 80th career doubles win, while Oyen picked up her 49th as well as her team-best 19th this year.
“We played really tough in doubles where all three courts we had the momentum and lead,” Thornqvist said. “Then we lost the momentum on all three courts. We communicated great and stuck to the game plan and were able to turn the momentum to our favor on all three courts and win all three. I’m particularly happy with our number three doubles team because Duke has a really tough team at that spot that we beat today under pressure.”
Florida returns to action on March 23 when the team resumes SEC action and travels to Starkville to play Mississippi State.