Top-seeded Florida advances to Round of 16

Florida's Lauren Embree returns a ball during a doubles match in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Women's Tennis Championship against Georgia Tech, held at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The Gators beat the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech 4-0 to advance to the Elite Eight.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 9:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 13, 2013 at 3:04 a.m.
After Sunday's matches, the Ring Tennis Complex won't see anymore action this season. But the exciting part of the season for the Florida women's tennis team is just beginning. The most successful player in the program's history served, volleyed and smashed on the Gator courts for the last time Sunday. But her work, as well as her legacy, is not complete. The program's leader reached a milestone Sunday. But what he can achieve over the next eight days will trump any individual achievement. The No. 1-ranked Gators (24-2) had a relatively easy time in Sunday's NCAA second-round match against No. 23 Georgia Tech, winning 4-0.

The victory over Georgia Tech (15-10) encapsulated just how successful the UF women's tennis program has been. It moves Florida to Friday's Round of 16 against Duke at the University of Illinois, the host school for the NCAA championship. It's the eighth consecutive year and the 13th time in the last 14 years the Gators have advanced to this stage. Senior No. 1 Lauren Embree earned two points — one in her 6-0, 6-0 win over Elizabeth Kilborn and a second while pairing with Sofie Oyen to beat Megan Kurey and Kendal Woodard 8-6 - in her last appearance on the Linder Stadium courts. It was Embree's 38th straight dual match singles win to improve her singles career to 116-14. Coach Roland Thornqvist, who didn't find one flaw in his team's effort, earned his 300th career win at Florida. “I liked the momentum (one point earned in doubles) carried us into the beginning part of singles,” said Thornqvist, 300-33 in 12 years as UF coach. “After that I don't think we ever looked back. We looked fit. We moved well. I was pleased with pretty much everything today.” Caroline Hitimana, the other Gator senior, and Alexandra Cercone won the first doubles match of the day at No. 2, easily knocking off Jasmine Minor-Natasha Prokhnevska 8-2. Freshman Brianna Morgan and Danielle Collins lost their match at No. 3 doubles, 8-4, which left it up to Embree-Oyen to earn the doubles point at No. 1. The two never trailed in the match, but Kurey-Woodard rallied from a 6-3 deficit to get it to 6-5. Being able to handle Woodard's hard serve made a big difference. Embree took out Kilborn in their singles match in just 59 minutes. Morgan, at No. 4 singles, was almost as impressive in her 6-1, 6-2 win over Kurey. The freshman set the tone of the match by winning the first five games of the first set. No. 5 Olivia Janowicz closed it out for Florida with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Muriel Wacker. Friday against Duke (16-9) will be a rematch for Florida. The Blue Devils are one of the teams that defeated the Gators this season. It is a different Duke team, however, from the one that knocked off Florida 4-0 on Feb. 17. Two of Duke's top players have suffered season-ending injuries. “No matter what happens now I will be the first guy to shake these players' hands because they have worked really hard with great attitudes and we are rolling up there with seven players ready to go and that is a great feeling,” Thornqvist said.

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