Gators blank Bulldogs to open NCAA tourney

Florida senior Sophie Oyen returns a shot against South Carolina State during the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Ring Tennis Complex on Friday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7:41 p.m.

Despite a three-week break from competition, it was business as usual for the No. 8 Florida women's tennis team Friday at Linder Stadium.


NCAA tournament

What: Second round
Who: No. 22 Oklahoma State (16-8) vs. No. 8 Florida (20-5)
Where: Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex on UF campus
When: 3 p.m. Saturday

UF (20-5) had no trouble with MEAC champion South Carolina State (13-6), ending the Bulldogs' season with an efficient 4-0 win in first-round NCAA tournament action.

“I thought we played really well,” Florida coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We were a little nervous in the opening 10 minutes of doubles, but managed to play our way through that and executed well.

“In these tournaments when you have to play back-to-back days in 90-degree weather, when you are up and have a chance to close it out quickly, it's very important that you do. I thought a two-hour match Saturday was nice, not to have to be on the court for another hour.”

The No. 27-ranked tandem of senior Sofie Oyen and freshman Belinda Woolcock got things started with an 8-3 win at No. 2 doubles — their team-leading 13th victory of the year — and 10 minutes later, senior Olivia Janowicz and sophomore Brianna Morgan clinched the doubles point for UF with an 8-3 win of their own at the No. 3 spot.

Freshman Kourtney Keegan wasted no time making it 2-0, rolling to a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 5 singles in just 46 minutes, and shortly thereafter, fellow freshman Stefani Stojic finished off her opponent at No. 6 singles 6-0, 6-1 to put UF a point from victory.

Oyen, the match's only double-winner, then clinched it moments later, polishing off a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 2 as the Gators ran their amazing home winning streak to 132 straight.

UF, which is now 15-0 this season when winning the doubles point, was ahead in two of the three remaining singles matches, all of which were halted.

“In doubles, me and Bel talked a lot and had good energy and were pretty aggressive,” Oyen said. “In singles, I started off really well and didn't make a lot of unforced errors, so I'm really glad with both my singles and doubles play.”

Keegan, who was playing in her first NCAA tournament, admitted there were a few butterflies.

“Obviously I went in a little nervous, being a freshman on the team, but I enjoyed it,” Keegan said. “I was just having fun out there, doing what I do best and hoping that it goes well.”

The Gators face Big 12 Conference runner-up Oklahoma State (16-8) at 3 p.m. Saturday, with a berth in the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., on the line.

The No. 22 Cowgirls eliminated No. 33 South Florida with a 4-0 win in the tournament's opening match, advancing to the second round in consecutive years for the first time since 1985-86 while ending the season for the Bulls (18-4), who came in on a school-record 15-match winning streak.

“They're a very good team, and we knew they were going to be a fantastic opponent coming in here with what they did in the Big 12 and their tournament,” Thornqvist said. “They beat Texas twice this year, and Texas is obviously a big name.

“I had a chance to watch them, and they've got some good hitters and some talented players at virtually every spot, so we're going to have to raise our game clearly and play a little bit better than we did the first time out Saturday. But we can expect that from our players, and I think we'll be ready.”

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