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Friday, April 12, 2024

Roland Thornqvist will get to see the nation's elite vie for the ITA National Indoor Championship up close on Nov. 6-9.

He shouldn't get too close, though.

"(The National Indoor) is like a pack of dynamite," the UF coach said of the talent level.

Thornqvist would not be able to see the show if it wasn't for Megan Alexander and Marrit Boonstra. While other UF students listened to the Steve Miller Band and watched a UF football clinic this weekend as UF demolished Kentucky 63-5, the No. 6-ranked Gator duo went into the ITA South Region Championships in Athens, Ga., with hopes of winning the whole thing. They did just that Monday by defeating No. 46 Noelle Hickey and Christy Striplin of Georgia Tech 8-0.

Thornqvist suggests the match was even more lopsided than the final score indicates.

"I can't remember many games that even went the distance," he said.

The win gives the Gators an automatic berth in the National Indoor, which consists of only 16 doubles teams.

This weekend marks the first time Alexander and Boonstra have won hardware as a team. The players have complemented each other well since they began playing together last year, making Thornqvist's job easier.

"(Alexander and Boonstra) know so much about doubles and how they should play. There was very little that I had to do," Thornqvist said.

In addition to her match with Alexander, Boonstra played in the singles pool. She started the day by sinking Auburn's Melissa Koning 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals. She then fell to Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia 6-0, 6-3 in the final.

Despite dropping the championship match, Boonstra will still compete in the singles division at the National Indoor - considered the second leg of the ITA Grand Slam - as both finalists receive an automatic bid.

An appearance in the National Indoor singles draw, which contains 32 of the nation's best players, will be a fitting end to Boonstra's successful fall. She is 9-3 in singles matches and has dropped a few top-100 players.

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The success has allowed Boonstra to contend deep into tournaments. As a result, she has played two, sometimes three matches per day. At the ITA All-American Championships on Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Boonstra suffered severe leg cramps after competing in 12 hours worth of matches over the course of two days.

Thornqvist and assistant coach Dave Balogh have tried to prevent this by changing her conditioning schedule. The team used to take a day off Monday before a rigorous Tuesday.

The rest of the team plays at the SEC Coaches Classic Nov. 7-9 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., but most of the attention will be on Alexander and Boonstra as they participate in the last premiere tournament of the fall.

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