No. 1 Florida Survives Scare; Ousts Clemson from Sweet 16

No. 1 Florida Survives Scare; Ousts Clemson from Sweet 16

May 20, 2011

Photo Gallery  | Feature: Belaya, Vyskocilova Display Tigers’ Fight

STANFORD, CA – The top-ranked and second-seeded Florida (28-1) took down Clemson (21-11), 4-1, in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, CA. The Tigers gave the Gators all they could handle, pushing them to the limit for more than four hours, but ultimately bowing out in the Round of 16 for the fifth straight season.

Florida, who entered the match with a 63-2 mark in SEC singles play and was 56-1 in its last 57 singles matches, needed every bit of three sets against the Tigers to claim its win. Clemson freshman Klara Vyskocilova posted Clemson’s lone point, a 6-3, 6-3 win over first-team All-SEC performer Sofie Oyen, who went a perfect 9-0 in SEC play.

54th-ranked Alex Cercone defeated Masha Belaya, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5) in a wild third set to clinch the match. Belaya, who was unranked, was familiar with the Gator freshman, as they met many times in juniors.

The doubles point provided high drama as Florida came out and won the flight two match, 8-3. Caroline Magnusson responded with an 8-4 win at No. 3, their fifth straight win. They led throughout after taking a 3-0 lead, and stretching it as far as 6-2 in the early going. It sent the doubles point down to No. 1, where two of the top six doubles teams nationally were battling.

Clemson’s sixth-ranked group of Josipa Bek and Keri Wong took a 5-4 lead after breaking second-ranked Allie Will and Alex Cercone. But, the Gator tandem broke back to tie, 5-5. Each team held to knot the score at six-all, but Cercone held serve, and the Gator duo broke Wong to win, 8-6, in what could be a preview of a late-round matchup in the NCAA Doubles Championship.

Bek and Wong fell to 30-10 together on the season.

The Tigers came out swinging in singles, with the top five singles players all taking the first set against ranked opponents. After an hour’s worth of doubles play, the Tigers hunkered down and showed teeth early.

Vyskocilova dispatched Oyen quickly at flight three, taking the first singles match from the Gators since April 8, a span of seven matches.

Keri Wong pushed out to a 6-4 lead, but her opponent, 17th-ranked Lauren Embree, battled back to win the next two sets, 6-1, 6-4. 42nd-ranked Joanna Mather then bounced back from a 0-6 first set loss to No. 114 Nelly Ciolkowski to win in three sets as well, leaving the match down to flights one, five, and six.

Clemson’s top player, Josipa Bek, had No. 7 Allie Will on the ropes. Bek took the first set, 6-4, from the SEC Player of the Year, who held a 20-1 spring record. Bek held a 5-3 lead in the second set as well, and Will fought off three match points to pull to within 5-4, and then held to know the match at five. Will would end up winning in a tiebreak set, extending their match to a third set.

Bek jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead before each player held, giving Bek a 5-1 lead on Will’s serve. Will held, but Bek could not close the match before the dual ended with the decision at flight five between Belaya and Cercone.

Caroline Magnusson found herself locked in a battle at flight six as well, forcing a third set against Caroline Hitmana, but trailed, 5-2, when the match ended.

Bek and Wong will stay in California, as they will participate in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, which begin on May 25. The rest of the Tigers will return to Clemson.

(2) Florida (28-1) def. (15) Clemson (21-11), 4-1 March 20, 2011 – NCAA Round of 16 – Taube Tennis Center – Stanford, CA

Doubles: 1. #2 Will/Cercone (UF) def. #6 Bek/Wong (CU), 8-6 2. #45 Embree/Oyen (UF) def. Henry/Belaya (CU), 8-3 3. Magnusson/Vyskocilova (CU) def. Janowicz/Mather(UF), 8-4 Order of finish: 2,3,1

Singles: 1. #11 Josipa Bek (CU) led #7 Allie Will (UF) 6-4, 6-7(1), 5-2 DNF 2. #17 Lauren Embree (UF) def. #48 Keri Wong (CU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 3. Klara Vyskocilova (CU) def. #91 Sofie Oyen (UF), 6-3, 6-3 4. #42 Joanna Mather (UF) def. #114 Nelly Ciolkowski (CU), 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 5. #54 Alex Cercone (UF) def. Masha Belaya (CU), 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(5) 6. Caroline Hitmana (UF) led Caroline Magnusson (CU), 6-4, 3-6, 5-2 DNF Order of Finish: 3,2,4,5*

Time of Match: 4:22