Janowicz on a roll heading into UF's dual-match season

Olivia Janowicz has compiled a team-best 17-3 record in the fall.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/File
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 9:33 p.m.

Florida senior standout Olivia Janowicz points to a focused offseason as being key to a strong fall performance that has propelled her to a No. 17 ITA national ranking entering UF's dual-match season.

“In past summers, I would treat it more as just a break,” Janowicz said. “I would just try to keep up with my level from before.

“This past summer was totally different. I was training 4-to-5 hours every day and just took a couple of online classes. I was extremely focused because I wanted to make my last year my best year yet.”

So far, so good. The latest ranking is a career-high for Janowicz, who ended last year ranked No. 108 and began the 2013-14 season at No. 75. But after winning two singles titles and compiling a team-best 17-3 record in the fall, Janowicz, one of three seniors for the Gators, is the highest-ranked player on a seven-member squad that is ranked No. 2 nationally and includes six players ranked among the top 40.

Janowicz began playing tennis at the age of three on the public courts in Linden, N.J., but credits her family's move to the Melbourne area (Palm Bay) when she was 11 as kick-starting her development.

After graduating high school in 2010, Janowicz, a five-star recruit, enrolled at UF and has been an integral part of a run that includes back-to-back NCAA titles in 2011-12 and an NCAA semifinal finish in 2013, posting a career-best 37-6 overall singles record last year en route to earning second-team All-SEC honors for the second time (2011).

Overall, Janowicz boasts a 110-24 career singles record that includes a 58-8 dual-match mark, a 26-2 SEC ledger and an 8-1 record in NCAA dual-match play. She's also 61-31 in doubles, including 17-6 in SEC play.

“She's improved a lot, tennis-wise and mentally,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “She's so much more confident now and adds a whole different level of belief in herself.”

Janowicz thrives in the clutch. She earned 2013 SEC Tournament MVP honors after being the only Gator to win all three of her singles matches, capping her effort with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Georgia's Ayaka Okuno for the clinching point in UF's championship final win.

She followed that by earning All-Tournament honors at the 2013 NCAA Championships, winning all four of her No. 5 singles matches to end the season on a team-high, 16-match winning streak. She capped it by tying UF's semifinal battle with Stanford at 3-all with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over the Cardinal's Ellen Tsay before Stanford pulled out a 4-3 win.

It was the second such performance with the team's season on the line for Janowicz, who rates UF's thrilling 4-3 win over Stanford in the 2011 NCAA final as her top memory.

The Gators trailed that match, 3-2, before her 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1 victory against the Cardinal's Carolyn McVeigh tied the score at 3-all. Teammate Lauren Embree then rallied to claim the clinching point with a third-set tiebreaker win to end Stanford's 184-match home winning streak.

Janowicz also has been a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll each year at UF and was honored with a pair of team awards last season, taking home the 2013 Dorothy Anderson Scholarship Award for the best combination of academics and character on and off the court as well as the 2013 Neal Anderson Scholastic Award for the highest GPA.

She also is a two-time winner (2011, 2012) of UF's Rheau Stakeley Sportsmanship Award and was selected to the 2013 SEC Community Service Team.

“I think I'm starting to figure things out,” Janowicz said. “I'm finding my rhythm. Your senior year, you just get the hang of it and are a little more comfortable.

“I love competing right now more than I ever have, which is great. I go to tournaments and I'm very excited to play, and that really helps my confidence.”

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