October 9th, 2015
UF Into Tennis on Campus Invitational Quarters
By Steve Pratt
USTA Tennis On Campus players are as passionate about tennis as Southeastern Conference fans are about their football.
So while the unbeaten University of Florida football team prepares to improve its unbeaten 5-0 record tomorrow night against 4-1 Missouri in an SEC grudge match on the gridiron, the Tennis On Campus Gators are spending the weekend thinking about a three-peat at the sixth annual USTA TOC Fall Invitational taking place at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The Gators opened with two wins in pool play and won their Round of 16 match in the Gold Bracket match with a 24-16 victory over Ohio State to advance to Saturday’s winner’s bracket quarterfinals.
That means three more wins for a three-peat for the Gators.
“There is pressure on us this weekend, but pressure is good,” said Florida captain Joseph Rudy, whose team will face Boston College in the quarterfinals. “We’ve been able to win some close matches here the past two years. We were down two games going into the final mixed doubles match against Georgia Tech last year and pulled it out.”
Florida lost to North Carolina, 28-26, in the Tennis On Campus National Championship quarterfinals last April and fell to UC-Berkeley in the 2014 final two school years ago.
“I think juggling the lineup is key,” Rudy said. “We have such a large squad. Everything just seemed to come together for us last year.”
Florida senior women’s player Natalie Boruk said there is a target on each of the Gators’ backs. “Everyone wants to knock off the defending champs,” she said. “We don’t come here thinking we’re the best team and we’re going to win.”
Rudy said winning here and earning the automatic bid for the national championships to be played April 14-16 in Cary, N.C., was the reason play was so intense on Friday, but that all the schools had a great time competing. “Winning here and getting the extra bid into Nationals is huge for us,” he said. “Because it gets another Florida team into Nationals and there are so many good schools from our section. We’re pumped to come in here and secure our automatic bid.”
Also advancing to the quarterfinals on Saturday was the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina, Cornell, Virginia Tech, Central Florida and William and Mary.