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Gators bid for third straight national tennis title falls short in 4-3 loss to Stanford

Florida's Lauren Embree returns the ball during a quarterfinal doubles tennis match against California.

AP photo

Florida's Lauren Embree returns the ball during a quarterfinal doubles tennis match against California.

It was a comeback that fell just short. 

The top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Florida women's tennis team fell behind 3-0 in its national semifinal match against Stanford, then staged a late rallly before losing 4-3 late Monday night at the Atkins Tennis Center on the University of Illinois campus.

It was a classic match between two programs that have become familiar with battling each other for championships. The last two postseason meetings between Florida and Stanford prior to Monday were 4-3 decisions in the final, with the Gators winning the 2011 national championship and the Cardinal the 2010 title. Both of those matches came down to a third set in the last match on court.

UF had its overall win streak halted at 19, as well as its 16-match run in the NCAA Championships. The Gator’s previous last postseason loss was a 4-3 decision to Stanford in the 2010 final

It was a bittersweet ending for a senior class that leaves with unprecedented success: over the past four years, the Gators have been to four consecutive Final Fours, won two national titles and had three title match appearances.

“We’ve had a great season,”  UF coach Roland Thornqvist said.  “This group has been great to work with. They’ve had great attitudes and really enjoyed competing. It’s been challenging because we haven’t had the doubles issues in the past like we did this year but our players handled it with resiliency. We lost it more this year (10 times) than any other year that I’ve been here. We found a way to still be competitive against top teams throughout the year. I’m just really proud of them.”

There's still a chance the national title could remain in the SEC. Stanford will play No. 3 Texas A&M (26-3) today at 6 p.m. for the national championship. The Aggies defeated No. 7 UCLA, 4-3, in their semifinal match on Monday.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:56am]


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