No. 2 Florida women's tennis singles out Alabama
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:11 p.m.
Florida coach Roland Thornqvist wasn't worried about how senior Lauren Embree would rebound from a tough tiebreaker loss that clinched the doubles point for Alabama to open Friday's big Southeastern Conference match.
He was, however, concerned with how her playing partner, freshman Brianna Morgan, might be affected.
“Losing the doubles point the way we did, I was curious to see how our freshman there, Bri, was going to respond in singles,” he said. “I was really pleased to see how she just shook that off like a scarred veteran.
“I knew Lauren was going to handle it. Lauren was just going to be mad and try to beat her opponent worse, but sometimes you don't know how the first-year players are going to respond to something like that.”
Morgan responded with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 4 singles that clinched a 4-1 win over the No. 8 Crimson Tide at the Ring Tennis Complex, handing Alabama (13-2, 5-1) its first SEC loss while improving the second-ranked Gators to 12-2, 5-1 and extending their winning streak to five in a row.
“I think it was really good that I could do it because I feel like in doubles, I kind of let the team down in the end,” Morgan said. “I thought it was really important that I could pull it out for us.”
The teams split the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles, leaving the point up to the winner at No. 1.
After battling to an 8-8 stalemate, Embree and Morgan took a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker and had five match points to knock off the nation's sixth-ranked duo of Mary Anne Macfarlane and Alexa Guarachi before falling.
But junior Alex Cercone quickly evened the score with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles over Bama's Maya Jansen to complete an impressive performance after earlier teaming with fellow junior Olivia Janowicz for an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.
“She was spectacular,” Thornqvist said. “It started in doubles. She did some work in doubles on her own – watched some film, made some decisions and commitments to a few things – and boy did that make a difference. Her doubles play set the tone for singles.
“She lost the first game of her match in singles fairly easily, and after that it was just like a whipping. She was just automatic.”
Cercone was pleased with her effort.
“Last weekend I didn't get to finish my singles matches, so being able to get the job done and finish first today was a really good feeling,” she said. “Overall I'm really happy with my performance today in doubles and singles. Olivia and I played really well together.”
Janowicz picked up her second win of the night by defeating the Tide's Emily Zabor, 6-4, 6-0 less than 10 minutes later to put the Gators ahead 2-1, and Embree, the nation's No. 1-ranked singles player, closed out the 25th-ranked Mcfarlane 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 to put UF a point away from victory.
Morgan then provided the clincher, taking out the Tide's Antonia Foeshe, with the remaining matches at No. 2 and No. 6 singles suspended.
“There was never a doubt in singles to me,” Thornqvist said. “I really like this team. They know how to compartmentalize, and I just think that shows great confidence and strong wills.”
The Gators will try and complete an SEC home sweep for the second straight weekend when they take on No. 18 Auburn at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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