Roundup: Women's tennis drops thriller in SEC final

Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When top-ranked Florida has won the doubles point this season it has led to a win. All 22 times. But not Sunday with a title on the line in the SEC Tournament championship match.

Florida (23-3), the tourney's third seed, easily captured the doubles point against Vanderbilt with impressive wins on courts one and two, where Anna Danilina-Ingrid Neel upset Vanderbilt's third-ranked pair of Emily Smith-Astra Sharma, 6-3, just before Kourtney Keegan-Brooke Austin topped Emma Kurtz-Sydney Campbell, 6-2.

Top-seeded and second-ranked Vanderbilt (20-5), however, used its home court advantage and flipped the switch in singles action where it captured four wins to claim the 4-3 win at the indoor Currey Tennis Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

"I thought we once again, payed fantastic doubles," UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. "That's been the highlight all weekend. We have become a much more aggressive team in doubles. It paid off all three days — we won all three doubles points against incredible doubles teams.

"I thought we played well in singles today, too. Vanderbilt, you have to give them credit. They have great ball tolerance and in a couple of matches that really made a difference."

Despite the adversity of not having their complete lineup with junior Josie Kuhlman unavailable due to being up all night and time in a local hospital with a stomach illness, the Gators still had their chances in singles. After Florida took the quick 1-0 lead in the team score after winning the doubles point, Vanderbilt evened the team score with a straight-setter on court one.

Keegan swung the lead back in Florida's favor with an efficient 6-3, 6-2 win on court five. Keegan also won all three doubles matches at the SEC Tournament, posting a combined 4-0 record and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

Vanderbilt came back and evened the team score again with a three-setter on court two, where freshman Ingrid Neel dropped her match.

Danilina gutted out a three-setter, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, and Florida held a 3-2 lead. Danilina won two singles matches during the event, as well as a pair of doubles matches and also earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

With the team score at 3-2, Florida needed just one more singles win but unfortunately, the hometown Commodores crowd maxed out the indoor facility with fans and made their presence felt as they helped Vanderbilt collect the final two wins.

Men's golf: At St. Simons Island, Georgia, Florida escaped the quarterfinals of match play after a playoff, but in the semifinal match play round, the Gators would not find the same luck.

The Gators opened the day with Alejandro Tosti going to his second playoff in as many days. After splitting with South Carolina 2-2, Tosti and the Gamecocks' Will Miles headed to a playoff to determine what team would get the final point.

After sinking a clutch par putt on the first playoff hole that held on the edge of the cup before dropping in, the junior shut South Carolina down when he carded a four and Miles carded a five on the 20th hole of the match. By notching a par in his final hole, Tosti finished off his second-straight bogey-free round.

Following their defeat of the Gamecocks, the Gators advanced to the semifinal match play round where they faced off with Vanderbilt. After splitting 2-2 with the Commodores, attention turned to Andy Zhang. The freshman was two-down heading to the 16th hole, one-down heading to the 18th and managed to finish the hole all square, forcing a playoff.

Facing off against fellow freshman John Augenstein, Zhang carded a four on the first playoff hole, advancing to the 20th hole of the match. After both players fired their drives deep down the middle of the fairway, Zhang landed his approach shot on the fringe while Augenstein placed his shot within 10 feet of the hole. Zhang missed his putt from off the green and Augenstein sank his for birdie, winning the playoff for the Commodores.

Texas A&M and Vanderbilt will face off today for the title.

The Gators will compete at the NCAA Regional Tournament beginning May 15.

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