“I don’t know how we won that match,” said Thornqvist. “We found a way on doubles. I like the way we have played at the end of the doubles matches so far. Starting at the SEC Tournament and through this tournament, we’ve been very good at the end of doubles making the right decisions. Today was no different. That was the difference. In retrospect, we needed it.”
Sophomore Alexandra Cercone has battled through a tough season and rallied for a three-set singles victory in the deciding match to push her team to the championship.
“This is her sophomore year, and so far she has a clean sheet in this event,” Thornqvist said. “Alex had some ups and downs in her play, but somehow, when you come to this event, she is a different player. Today she got outplayed and found a way to win the second. I didn’t see the middle part of the third set, but she was just a surgeon at the end. She put the ball where she wanted it to be at the end.”
Florida and Duke split the first two double’s matches before the veteran pair of Lauren Embree (Marco Island, Fla.) and Joanna Mather (Duluth, Ga.) stepped up to earn the 9-8 (7-1) victory against Beatrice Capra and Rachel Kahan in the third match.
The Championship appearance is the Gators’ 13th in program history, winning team titles in 1992, 1996, 1998, 2003 and 2011. Second-seeded Florida (26-1) will play top-seeded UCLA (26-2) on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in the final.
The Bruins (26-2) bested fifth-seeded Southern California, 4-3, in their semifinal victory. Florida holds a slight 13-10 lead in the all-time series against UCLA, including a 7-5 edge in NCAA meetings. The teams met in last year’s NCAA Semifinals, where the Gators won 4-0 on their way to winning their fifth national championship.
NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships Semifinals
Dan Magill Tennis Complex * Athens, Ga.
Final Score: Florida d. Duke, 4-3
Doubles (order of finish: 1, 3, 2)
1. Sofie Oyen/Allie Will (1), UF d. Mary Clayton/Ester Goldfeld (21), DU, 8-3
2. Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (22), UF d. Beatrice Capra/Rachel Kahan (17), DU, 9-8 (7-1)
3. Monica Gorny/Hanna Mar, DU d. Alexandra Cercone/Caroline Hitimana, UF, 8-4
Singles (order of finish: 2, 3, 6, 1, 4, 5)
1. Beatrice Capra (2), DU d. Allie Will (1), UF, 6-4, 6-4
2. Lauren Embree (9), UF d. Ester Goldfeld (110), DU, 6-4, 6-1
3. Joanna Mather (21), UF d. Hanna Mar (59), DU 2-6, 6-2, 6-0
4. Rachel Kahan (85), DU d. Sofie Oyen (61), UF, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2
5. Alexandra Cercone (79), UF d. Mary Clayton (66), DU, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
6. Monica Turewicz (97), DU d. Olivia Janowicz, UF, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3