OXFORD, Miss. – When you’re playing a team as good as No. 2 ranked Florida, every opportunity you have to get on top is huge. The Rebels had a chance to take the doubles point and the early momentum with a big crowd behind them, however Florida was able to win the tiebreaker on court one and use it to their advantage on their way to a 4-0 win here Saturday in the SEC Championship Semifinals at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center/Galtney Courts.
With the win, Florida advances to the SEC Championship final to face third-seeded Georgia Sunday at Noon. Georgia defeated Alabama 4-2 in the other semifinal. Ole Miss finishes the tournament 1-1 including Friday’s 4-0 win over No. 23 Vanderbilt.
Florida cruised 8-1 at No. 2 doubles, but the Rebels were still in great shape to take the point up breaks on courts one and three. Iris Verboven and Julia Jones defeated Alex Cercone and Olivia Janowicz 8-6 at three. In a top-five battle on court one between fourth-ranked Kristi Boxx/Abby Guthrie and top-ranked Allie Will/Sofie Oyen, the Rebel duo had a match point up 7-6, but Florida would hold and ultimately win a tiebreaker 9-8(7) to clinch the point.
Florida gained a quick 3-0 lead with wins on courts three and one in that order. Freshman Erin Stephens, who clinched the Vanderbilt win, dropped her match to 23rd-ranrked Joanna Mather 6-3, 6-1. The No. 1 match on paper looked like a good one between Boxx, ranked No. 9 and Lauren Embree, ranked No. 10, but it was all Embree 6-2, 6-0. That made it 3-0 Gators.
The remaining matches all went three sets. Florida clinched the win when Oyen finished off Jones 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4.
When the match was stopped, Guthrie was in the third set at five, Caroline Rohde-Moe was tied in the final set against No. 1 ranked Will, and Vivian Vlaar had just split at six.
The Rebels are hoping that Saturday was not their last match of the season at the tennis center. They will find out May 1 if they get to host an NCAA Regional, when the pairings and sites are announced.
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