UF notebook: Thornqvist happy with team's season so far


Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:36 p.m.

UF women's tennis head coach Roland Thornqvist couldn't be happier with his team as they prepare to open their SEC schedule this Friday at home against Arkansas at 5 p.m.

The No. 9 Gators (9-2) are coming off their most impressive week of the season, recording 7-0 wins over No. 15 FSU and No. 6 Duke, the latter the reigning NCAA champion, in back-to-back home wins last week.

“There were a lot of nice things to see,” Thornqvist said during UF's All-Sports Media Day Monday. “We either played really well in some spots and outplayed them, or we played so-so but played the big points really well. We showed some real character in some spots, and there were a lot of positives.”

Thornqvist noted his team has shown marked improvement after dropping two of three matches at the ITA Indoors Round of 16 in Madison, Wis.

“One thing last week sort of illustrates to me is that we've become a better team than we were heading into Madison,” he said. “We looked a lot tougher and a lot more resilient. We're playing to win now instead of not to lose, and that's very, very important if you're trying to be a championship contender.”

UF, which is riding a school-record, 74-match home winning streak, entertains LSU Sunday at 1 p.m.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Head coach Amanda Butler said that while she was disappointed in Alabama's 66-61 win Sunday on Senior Day, she is hoping the Gators can refocus for the SEC Tournament, which begins Thursday in Duluth, Ga.

“It certainly was not what we wished for our seniors and not what we were hoping going into the SEC Tournament,” Butler said. “However, it is what it is now, and this is part of what we do, quick turnarounds, handling adversity and trying to find the positive when sometimes it's a little bit tougher. We know that the SEC Tournament is going to be tremendous challenge.”

UF (14-15, 7-9) is the No. 7 seed and will take on No. 10 seed Auburn (14-15, 5-11) in first-round action at 2:30 p.m. The winner of that game will meet No. 2 seed Kentucky Friday at 2:30. The Gators defeated the Tigers 71-68 in double overtime earlier this year, but Auburn is coming off a 65-63 upset of Kentucky Sunday.

GYMNASTICS: No. 4 Florida improved to 6-2, 5-1 with Saturday's road win at Auburn, and head coach Rhonda Faehn remains impressed with her team.

“We actually had a great competition on the road at Auburn,” Faehn said. “There were definitely a lot of positives, but there's still areas we need to continue to want to work on. But all in all, from top to bottom, I thought the team came out and did a wonderful job as far as keeping the intensity and really initiating and creating their own energy and carrying that over to the competition.”

UF returns to the O'Connell Center for a non-conference tri-meet against North Carolina (6-3) and Ball State (5-6) Friday night at 7.

MEN'S TENNIS: The No. 6 Gators improved to 8-2 on the season by downing No. 13 Illinois, 5-2, at home Sunday afternoon.

“We picked up a good win over a top-15 team in Illinois, and it was very intense,” said UF head coach Andy Jackson. “It could have gone either way, and I was very proud of the way we responded to the situation. The level of intensity was like an SEC match, and that's what we're going to face this Friday at Arkansas and Sunday against LSU.”

UF's home match with FSU last week was rained out and has been rescheduled for March 17 at 4 p.m.

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