Florida women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist has stressed the importance of doubles play.
With the No. 3, No. 11, and No. 25-ranked singles players in junior Belinda Woolcock, sophomore Brooke Austin and junior Kourtney Keegan, respectively, the No. 3 Gators earning the doubles point all but assures a win.
In fact, when winning the doubles point, the Gators are 110-0 over the past five seasons.
"I think, intuitively, we were better when winning the doubles point," Thornqvist said. "I don’t think you can be too excited when you win the doubles point, and you certainly can’t get too down if you lose it. The doubles point is always important, but you can’t overstress it."
Four doubles pairings are ranked for Florida — No. 5 Austin and Keegan, No. 15 sophomore Josie Kuhlman and Woolcock, No. 33 Kuhlman and senior Brianna Morgan, and No. 50 Morgan and sophomore Anna Danilina.
On Sunday, Austin and Keegan defeated Southern California’s No. 4 duo of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith.
The Gators have yet to drop a doubles set this season.
And even if Florida doesn’t win the doubles point, the rest of the singles players have proven they can hold their own against opponents.
No. 51 Morgan, No. 56. Kuhlman and No. 110 Danilina are all undefeated in dual-match singles play. No. 73 junior Spencer Liang has a 1-1 record, and sophomore Peggy Porter has only appeared once this year, but went 10-7 last season.
And with temperatures starting to drop, gaining the edge in doubles play could prove important.
After the Gators’ 7-0 sweep of No. 4 USC on Sunday, Thornqvist noticed that the cold weather was making it more difficult for his players to hit the court’s corners. They were forced to hit the middle of the box instead, which can extend rallies and cause players to use their legs more.
In closer matchups, the doubles point would have been crucial in this situation.
"I actually asked our players last week before we started playing these two matches if we thought we were ready to use our legs to defend if we have to. And they all seemed to say yes," Thornqvist said.
"And yesterday, I thought, was a great example of that. So as long as we can be powerful and ultimately its 4-all, 5-all and the big ball’s not working, we can dial it down and be more physical if we have to, extend rallies if we have to.
"We’ll be fine in any kinds of weather, which is the Florida way, right?"