Notebook: Big homestand set for women's tennis

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 11:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 11:49 p.m.
Just two weeks into the Southeastern Conference dual-match season, there are four undefeated women's tennis teams in SEC play. While three-time defending SEC — and two-time defending NCAA — champion Florida is not among them, No. 5 UF (9-2, 2-1) can certainly change the landscape on a four-match homestand that includes matches against three of the four, beginning with Friday's 5 p.m. contest with SEC East leader and No. 9 Georgia (9-1, 3-0) at Scott Linder Stadium. “They are probably the team to beat in the league,” head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “The league overall is really strong. There are four teams in the top 10, so if you can come away with a league title, I think it's pretty safe to assume that you're going to be a national contender.

UF will take on Tennessee (4-5, 2-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. before clsoing out the homestand with matches against No. 6 Alabama (12-1, 4-0) and No. 14 Auburn (14-1, 4-0) next weekend. Those two teams share the top spot in the SEC West with No. 4 Texas A&M (10-1, 4-0), the team that handed Florida a tough 4-3 loss in College Station March 3. “By losing to Texas A&M, we're sort of behind the eight ball a little bit,” Thornqvist said. “It's important that we play well against Georgia. Anytime they come in, we have a big crowd, and it's going to be a fiery match for sure. I'm sure they know what's at stake as well.” Women's Golf First-year head coach Emily Bastel is looking forward to this weekend's SunTrust Gator Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course, the only home tournament for No. 5 UF. “We're excited to be playing at home this weekend,” she said. “It only happens once a year for us, and we are anxious to have all the teams in and showcase our golf course and our team and give our hometown fans something to cheer about. “We have a good field for the event this year. Six of the top 25 teams will be here, which is a better field than we've had in years past. We have the defending national champs (Alabama) coming, so we're excited about hosting a good field and looking forward to testing our game against the best in the country like we do week-in and week-out.” Gymnastics Following a week off from competition, No. 2 UF travels to No. 7 Utah in the regular-season finale for both teams this Saturday at 8 p.m. The Gators (8-1, 6-1 SEC) recorded a school-record team score of 198.425 in a win over visiting Minnesota in their last meet that is the highest national mark in nine years and ranks No. 8 nationally all-time. “I know the team is really excited to get back out there as we travel to Utah this weekend,” head coach Rhonda Faehn said. “It's going to be an amazing competition. It always is. “I'm sure there will be over 15,000 people there, but our athletes know as well it's a great opportunity for them.” Lacrosse The second-ranked Gators (9-0), off to their best start in the program's four-year history, will venture into new territory when they travel cross-country to play at Oregon Saturday. “We've never played on the West Coast at all,” head coach Amanda O'Leary said. “For us to head out there is going to be a challenge.” The Ducks (4-1) bring a four-game winning streak into the contest, which starts at 4 p.m. First up,UF will look for its 10th straight win when the Gators host Lehigh (2-3) tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Men's Tennis The Gators (7-5, 1-1) missed out on a 2-0 SEC start by dropping a 4-3 match at South Carolina (11-5, 1-1) Friday night despite winning the doubles point to take an early lead. “We had a tough one this past weekend,” first-year head coach Bryan Shelton said. “We got off to a good start there. Unfortunately, as a coaching staff, we were a little disappointed that our guys came out flat in singles, and that really cost us.” The match with the Gamecocks was the first of five straight road contests for UF that continues with road matches at Georgia Friday and at Tennessee Sunday. Women's Basketball After being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament by top-seeded Tennessee Friday, UF (18-14, 6-10) will spend the week practicing before next Monday's NCAA and NWIT fields are announced. “Now that we're to the point as we await our postseason fate, we've got to stay committed and re-commit ourselves to being a unique team that has learned from its mistakes down the stretch,” assistant coach David Lowery said. Soccer Head coach Becky Burleigh announced an eight-member signing class. Joining UF are Brooke Sharp (Ponte Vedra), Katie Richmond (Pensacola), Meggie Dougherty Howard (Largo), Savannah Jordan (Fayetteville, Ga.), Kristen Cardano (Tulsa, Okla.), Liz Slattery (Cincinnati, Oh.), Nora Neset Gjoen (Bergen, Norway) and Pamela Begic (Semic, Slovenia). Jordan and Gjoen are already enrolled at UF for the spring semester. “It's a terrific class,” Burleigh said. “We're looking forward to big things with them.”

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