After a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals last May in which Florida squandered a 3-1 lead, the Gators have been eager to get back on the court and make another deep run.
Their wait is over.
The No. 3 UF women’s tennis team kicks off its Spring season today when it takes on the USF Bulls at 4 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex.
And all the stats favor Florida.
In 53 matchups against the Bulls, the Gators have come out on top 52 times, including a 7-0 sweep last season.
All seven Gators from last season’s team are still around, with sophomore Anna Danilina being the sole addition.
In season-opening games, Florida boasts a 40-3 record with its last loss coming in 1985 at Miami.
The Gators also have an impressive home dual-match win streak. UF hasn’t lost at the Ring Tennis Complex in 147 matches — the longest active Division I win streak.
On Jan. 15, the Gators had the opportunity to face some of the best tennis players in the country at the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships as a warmup for team play. They were without junior Belinda Woolcock, who was participating at the Australian open, and sophomore Brooke Austin.
"We didn’t win anything there — no trophies. But overall I was pretty pleased with how we competed and how we played," UF coach Roland Thornqvist said.
"Brooke played a couple of 25k USTA pro events and Josie (Kuhlman) is away right now playing one, so by the time South Florida rolls around here on Wednesday, I’m hoping we’ll have all eight together for the first time in the spring."
In late May, USF announced that Cristina Moros would become the Bulls’ next head coach. Moros previously coached at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she led the team to a 12-5 record.
Before that, she was the Academy and Private Coach at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy. There, she coached some of the top female tennis players of today, including Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic.
Moros also brought four freshmen in Nicole Dzenga, Vanja Klaric, Audrey Rizk and Ana Dominguez to the program.
"I’m sure she’ll have her crew ready. We’ve seen a few of the players, we’ve seen them obviously at regionals," Thornqvist said.
"Sometimes when you’ve got a new coach in there, there’s a little bit of a transition period. But they’ll be ready, and they have nothing to lose."