For an in-state rivalry that always draws a large crowd, Gators-Seminoles matches are rarely close.
The trend continued Tuesday night.
No. 5 Florida (7-1) beat Florida State (5-3) in a 7-0 sweep, improving its record against FSU to 54-1 all time.
Freshmen Kourtney Keegan clinched the match with a 6-2, 6-0 decision to give the Gators their fifth shutout of the season.
“I thought we were very aggressive,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We hit the ball really well, and we’re good when we’re hitting our pace and depth, and our play at the net was executed really well.”
Florida controlled the pace of the match from start to finish. Olivia Janowicz and Stefani Stojic won the first doubles match 8-1, followed closely by an 8-1 win from Brianna Morgan and Keegan.
Belinda Woolcock had the only ace of the match and played well alongside Sofie Oyen. The pair did not finish but led their opponent 6-3 when the doubles point was clinched.
“I think we’re improving a lot, especially this semester,” Woolcock said of the chemistry she has developed with Oyen. “I feel like our relationship on the court has gotten a lot better each match. When we have fun and when we’re enjoying each other and competing, we always play at a really high level.”
It was more of the same for Florida heading into singles play. Janowicz won the first singles match 6-1, 6-1, increasing her dual match record to 5-1 this season on the No. 1 court. The Gators led by two.
“The first match at home was a little harder,” Janowicz said. “I was a little nervous to play [the] one [position], but I think now after competing against really good teams and getting some huge wins and climbing up the ranking, I feel more confident.”
Janowicz was the No. 11 ranked singles player in the nation last week, and her ranking should continue to rise.
“Really, most of it is on the mental side, not necessarily just forehands and backhands,” Thornqvist said.
“[Olivia] looks more comfortable, more confident, and I thought she was flawless today or close to it.”
After Janowicz’s win, Morgan won the next singles match 6-3, 6-0, followed by wins in straight sets from Keegan, Oyen and Stojic. Alexandra Cercone rounded out the sweep with a 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (10-5) victory.
The win was Florida’s second straight after a bitter loss to Northwestern at the National Team Indoors on Saturday. However, many of the players credited the loss as being instrumental to their last two wins.
“I think it’s good early on to feel that pain of losing and be hungry to never have to feel it again,” Janowicz said.
“So I think it was a really good lesson to learn, especially coming back and winning after that against [Southern California] who’s ranked even higher.”
Florida travels to the West Coast to play St. Mary’s on Saturday and No. 4 Stanford on Sunday. The back end of the four-game road trip will feature No. 10 Texas A&M and Missouri.
“I told [the team] in the locker room we’re hitting the ball really, really well. And so our job now is to just have great legs for the weekend,” Thornqvist said. “We’re going to make sure we have full strength when we go out there and we’ll see what we can do.”
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