Florida women fall 4-3 to Stanford in NCAA tennis finals
The Florida women's tennis team fell one match shy of its goal of winning its first national championship since 2003, falling 4-3 to Stanford in Tuesday's NCAA Finals.
The Gators fell behind early, then mounted a comeback that fell just short.
“That was probably one of the better matches I’ve been involved with in a match of this magnitude,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “I thought we played terrific in doubles all year and today was no different. For some reason, we got off to a slow start in singles. It looked really grim there for a while, but just like we talked about all year long, we were resilient. I really thought our team showed tremendous courage, heart and pride. In the end we came up short, but I was really, really proud of our effort and our play in a championship round like this. Stanford played at a high level from the beginning of the match. In the first 20 minutes of singles, balls were whipping past us left and right. For us to slow that down and use our athleticism and
neutralize some of that pace was great.”
Florida trailed in the team scoring 3-2 and was down in the two remaining singles matches. The Gators battled their way back into the dual match and evened the score when sophomore Joanna Mather
won a three setter in two hours and 42 minutes.
That set the stage for the championship to be decide on court three, where senior Marrit Boonstra had rallied to force a third set against freshman Mallory Burdette. Boonstra lost her serve at love in the seventh game, but came right back to break Burdette and held to get the match back on-serve at 5-4. Burdette held, then
Boonstra double-faulted and set up double-break point, which the Cardinal took and went to the baseline to serve for the championship. Boonstra fought off two serves at triple mach point, but not a third when her forehand went wide for the 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-5 decision.
“My heart just aches for Marrit,” Thornqvist said. “She has given this program everything she has. It’s just not fair for it to come down to a result like this for her. She’s going to be hurting for a long time. Our players will echo when I say that they love her for all she has done for them and how she gives them her h art. Marrit gave herself a chance in the match, leading 5-4 and was playing good tennis. It seemed like Mallory relaxed at 5-all and I thought that was the difference.”
Four Gators will get an opportunity to win individual titles when they begin play in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships today. Lauren Embree and Allie Will were selected for the 64-player singles draw, while the pairings of Embree and Anastasia Revzina, and Will and Boonstra will compete in the 32-team doubles draw.