Now that, my friends, is how you win a national championship.
Florida's women's tennis team edged the Stanford Cardinal 4-3 Tuesday in Palo Alto in an epic match between the nation's top two women's tennis teams. After handily taking the doubles point, Florida found itself backed into a corner after Stanford captured the first three singles points at the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 slots. But the Gators roared back to life.
Despite dropping their first sets, freshmen Alex Cercone and Olivia Janowicz both battled back to win their matches. Cercone won her No. 5 singles match 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; while Janowicz took the No. 6 singles point 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, to even the score at 3.
As the match extended beyond the four-hour mark, all eyes turned to Court #2, where Florida's Lauren Embree battled Stanford's Mallory Burdette for the deciding point and a national championship. Embree went down 0-4 in the third set before storming back with five straight games of her own. Fittingly, the three-set marathon went into a tie breaker as Embree couldn't put away her opponent in two championship point attempts. So the stage was set as the No. 1-ranked Gators (seeded No. 2 in the NCAA Tournament) tried to steal one away from the No. 2 ranked Cardinal (seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament) and end Stanford's staggering 184-match home winning streak dating back to February 1999.
Burdette jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the tiebreaker, before Embree stormed back to take a 4-2 advantage. Burdette fought off two more championship points to knot the tiebreaker at 6-6. Embree then took a 7-6 lead, and, on championship point, watched Burdette's forehand shot sail over the baseline, giving Embree the No. 2 singles win — 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (6) — and the Gators their fifth national title in women's tennis.
Yeah, the Gators win titles. And they do it in style.