Women's Tennis Ends NCAA Run

The top-seeded University of Florida women's tennis team was stunned Saturday evening in a 4-3 loss to 23rd-ranked Miami in the second round of the NCAA Championships.

"We knew Miami was a good team and they played very, very well. There's no question that the better team won today," UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. "They took care of some opportunities in doubles that we didn't. We knew that they were a feisty team, but they're also a very skilled team and I want to congratulate them. They played fantastic tennis. While our ultimate goal wasn't met this season, I'm still really proud of our players."

Miami (19-3) advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1999 and faces the winner of the Tulane-Oklahoma match on Thursday in Athens, Ga.

"Our girls just fought so incredibly hard," Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk said. "We've known for many years that you not only need talent but fight to beat Florida. It takes a lot to go out and compete against a team like that and we did that today. We've come here so many times and got our butts kicked, but today we fought really hard."

Florida (23-1), which had its 40-match win streak snapped, lost the doubles point for the first time this season and never seemed comfortable on the court at any point during the dual match.

"I think the doubles point really helped Miami," Thornqvist said. "After we lost the doubles point I was still very much convinced that we were going to be okay. I don't think we paniced after we lost the doubles point even though we hadn't lost one all year. They just out-played us in many of the matches. That's how the ball rolls. I tip my hat to Miami. They played fantastic tennis"

The loss marks the earliest exit for a No. 1 seed since the NCAA expanded to a 64-team tournament in 1999. The No. 1 seed had reached the final every year since 1999. Florida had also advanced to at least the NCAA quarterfinals each of the last 17 years and at least the semifinals 16 of the last 17 tournaments; and finals each of the past two win the 2003 championship. Florida's four NCAA titles are second-most to Stanford 12.

Miami's Audrey Banada edged Gator senior Lindsay Dawaf (Olney, Md.) 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 5 singles to clinch the upset in two hours and 35 minutes. One of the key games in the match came during the 11th game of the first set. Dawaf was coming off breaking Banada to get the set even at 5-all, but couldn't put away the Hurricane during the 22-point game that featured eight duces, five break points and three game points. Banada then held to take the first set. Dawaf rallied and won the first eight points of the second set, earning additional breaks in the sixth and eighth games to force a deciding third set. Both players opened the third holding serve, however the next six games were breaks, as Banada held the serve with a 4-3 lead. She managed to end the tend and held serve and Dawaf was unable to break her again.

After Miami won the No. 1 doubles position, Florida's No. 2 pair of Jennifer Magley (Bradenton, Fla.) and Zerene Reyes (Mexico) rallied for a 9-7 victory over Sara Robbins and Staci Stevens to notch their 21st consecutive victory.

The deciding match for the doubles point came on court No. 3, where Florida's Boglarka Berecz (Hungary) and Nina Suvak (Slovenia) appeared to be in complete control early against Audrey Banada and Mari Toro. The Gator pair jumped out to leads of 4-0 and 5-1 behind a pair of breaks, but that's when the Hurricane duo began their comeback. Suvak lost her serve in the eighth game, but UF still held a 6-5 lead with one break. With Suvak then serving at 40-15 in the 12th game, the Gators couldn't close out the game and Miami evened the match and took a 7-6 advantage after Banada held. But Berecz came right back and held at love, swinging the momentum back in the Gator's favor as they broke Toro in the next game to send Suvak to the baseline to serve for the match with a 8-7 lead. However, the Hurricane pair won the first three points en route to breaking Suvak and force a tiebreak. UF won the first two points in the tiebreaker, but Miami won the next five to take a 5-2 lead and eventually take the match with a 7-3 score in the tiebreak.

Senior Julie Rotondi (Hingham, Mass.) recorded the first singles victory of the match, downing Sara Robbins 6-4, 6-0 at the No. 6 position. The first set featured seven service breaks, but once Rotondi captured the first set she never looked back, taking the long opening game of the second set off Robbins' serve and rolling to the victory to even the team scoring at 1-all.

However, the momentum seemed to be heavily on Miami's side, as the Hurricanes jumped out to quick leads on courts No. 1 and 4, winning the first set in both and eventually earned victories. Megan Bradley won the No. 1 court battle against Alexis Gordon (Windsor, Conn.), taking the 6-3, 6-4 decision shortly after Staci Stevens topped UF's Boglarka Berecz 6-3, 6-4 on court No. 5 to give the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead.

Gator junior Zerene Reyes patiently dismantled Mari Toro on the No. 3 court, where the lefty baseliner jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start the match and eventually posted a 6-1, 6-3 final to record her 17th consecutive singles victory.

Jennifer Magley's tough 6-3, 6-3 victory over Melissa Applebaum at the No. 2 position tied the team scoring at 3-all, setting the stage for the No. 5 court to decide the final outcome of the dual match.

"I'm sure it's an assumption that people thought we overlooked Miami and we going to cruise through. We have never overlooked any of our opponents. That's one of the reasons we have been so successful over the years," Rotondi said.

Match Notes: *this was the first time Florida has lost the doubles point this season …

*the last time UF lost the doubles point was 28 matches ago, when Tulane took two of three doubles matches in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Championships …

*Miami improves to 18-0 this season when winning the doubles point …

*Florida had its 40 match win streak halted (last loss was a 4-3 setback to Vanderbilt on March 16, 2003 …

*the Gators had won 32 straight home matches prior to tonight's loss …

*UF's Lindsay Dawaf had entered today's No. 5 singles match with a 20-0 record this season …

*Zerene Reyes won her 18th straight singles matches …

*UF doubles team of Jennifer Magley & Zerene Reyes won their 21st straight …

*UM's Megan Bradley won her 17th straight singles match …

*Miami is 1-2 this season against top-25 ranked opponents …

*UF leads the all-time series against UM 31-21 and had won 23 straight meetings prior to tonight's outcome …

*UM's last win versus UF prior to tonight was on March 29, 1986 (7-1 in Coral Gables)

NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships Second Round Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex Gainesville, Fla.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Final Score: Miami 4, Florida 3

Doubles No. 1 Melissa Applebaum/Megan Bradley (30), UM def. Alexis Gordon/Julie Rotondi (4), UF 8-4 No. 2 Jennifer Magley/Zerene Reyes (19), UF def. Sara Robbins/Staci Stevens, UM 9-7 No. 3 Audrey Banada/Mari Toro, UM def. Boglarka Berecz/Nina Suvak, UF 9-8 (3)*

Singles No. 1 Megan Bradley (4), UM def. Alexis Gordon (2), UF 6-3, 6-4 No. 2 Jennifer Magley (20), UF def. Melissa Applebaum, UM 6-3, 6-3 No. 3 Zerene Reyes (66), UF def. Mari Toro, UM 6-1, 6-3 No. 4 Staci Stevens, UM def. Boglarka Berecz (82), UF 6-3, 6-4 No. 5 Audrey Banada, UM def. Lindsay Dawaf (116), UF 7-5, 2-6, 6-4* No. 6 Julie Rotondi (72), UF def. Sara Robbins, UM 6-4, 6-0

Order of Finish: Doubles 1, 2, 3; Singles 6, 4, 1, 3, 2, 5

*Clinching Doubles/Match Point


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