Florida's women's tennis team blanked the UCLA Bruins 4-0 in Monday evening's semifinal match, setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 National Championship showdown with the Stanford Cardinal. While the score may not be an indication, it was another grueling match for the Gators. Florida earned the double point, behind a 8-6 win at No. 2 by sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen, and a 8-4 win by the No. 3 team of junior Joanna Mather and sophomore Caroline Hitimana.
Embree then earned the first singles point with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 3. Sophomore Allie Will added a point with her 7-6, 6-2 win at No. 1, and Alex Cercone finished off the Bruins with a 7-5, 6-3 victory at No. 5. Oyen, Mather and freshman Olive Janowicz were all battling in their third sets when the match was clinched, showing just how easily this match could have swung the other way.
The No. 2 Gators will need to be at their best Tuesday if they hope to knock off the top ranked Cardinal and earn the national title. The Gators are 30-1 on the season, with their lone setback coming at the hands of Stanford 4-2 in the ITA National Indoor Finals way back in February. The Cardinal is 28-0 on the season, owns a 47 match winning streak as well as a 184 match home winning streak. The last home match Stanford lost was Feb. 27, 1999. Most of the Gators (who are laden with freshmen and sophomores) were about 8 years old the last time Stanford lost a home match. While Florida has no seniors on its roster, Stanford is led by its three seniors playing in their last team match. The Cardinal leads the all-time series against the Gators 16-11, and has dominated the Gators 9-2 in championship matches, including last season's 4-3 heartbreaker in the title match. Did I mention that Stanford even has a promotional video??
Tuesday's match starts at 7pm Eastern (4pm Pacific) in Palo Alto.