After not playing a match since late April, The Gator women’s tennis team showed no signs of rust and came out strong in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a dominant win against South Carolina State at home on Friday.
The Gators set the tone right away with a clean sweep of the opening doubles matches. Belinda Woolcock and Josie Kuhlman quickly knocked out a 6-0 win followed almost immediately with another 6-0 victory by Kourtney Keegan and Brooke Austin to clinch the first match point. In just 15 minutes, the Gators showed that an upset was not on the schedule for their first round of tournament play.
The impressive play continued into the singles round, in which the Gators dominated once again. On Court 6, Spencer Liang quickly dispatched Claudia Roca with back-to-back 6-0 wins. One minute later, Anna Danilina closed out Carla Petreanu with two more 6-0 victories. Less than 10 minutes later, Kuhlman finished the sweep by contributing two more 6-0 wins. With such an impressive showing, Liang praised her team’s ability to stay focused and take care of business.
In all, the Gators only lost four total games while winning 60 in front of their home fans. After the match, coach Roland Thornqvist attributed the win to his team’s competitive drive and the work they completed since their last match before the tournament.
With the win, the Gators continued a streak of never having lost a first round match in the program’s history; their first round record improved to a perfect and phenomenal 18-0. It is another accomplishment for one of the premier programs in the country, and is another step in the right direction for a team looking to capture its third national title in six years.
The Gators will move on to the next round Saturday at 3 p.m. against the Syracuse Orange at the Alfred Ring Tennis Complex.