Florida Women Claim First ITA National Indoors Title Since 1999
by Joey Dillon, 15 February 2017
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For sixteen of the best women's college tennis teams in the country, the ITA National Team Indoor Championship was more than just a trophy - it was a chance to make a statement for the rest of the season - or possibly a way to announce a rise to elite status. For Roland Thornqvist and his No. 1 Florida Gators, a win in New Haven, Connecticut, achieved a new first. Owning an incredible 447-97 head coaching record into the 2017 dual season and armed with countless national, conference and coaching accolades, Thornqvist has never won an NTI championship, and UF was seeking its first title since 1999.
Fifteen teams earned their entry to join host Yale
to battle it out for their national glory - including defending champions California
and North Carolina
, who had reached the championship match three of the last four years. During the ITA Kick Off Weekend
, thirteen of the fifteen hosts advanced through, with Texas A&M
and Ole Miss
becoming the first No. 4 seed to advance to the national championship with their upsets over host Virginia
followed by LSU
Florida faced an indoor-ready Michigan squad and dropped the doubles point before taking straight set wins in singles at Nos..3-6 to take a 4-1 win. Texas Tech stunned 2015 NCAA champions Vanderbilt 4-2, led by No. 116 Felicity Maltby's three-set win over No. 8 Sydney Campbell. Without their No. 1 Luisa Stefani in the lineup, Pepperdine withstood a tight challenge from Texas A&M before pushing through to the quarterfinals, 4-2. 2014 NTI champions Duke took out Georgia in the doubles point, but the Bulldogs were too tough in singles and scraped out the first four singles wins.
Ohio State, in only their second NTI appearance after their Cinderella run to the semifinals last year - took out Auburn 4-1, dropping only one set. Though their 4-0 win over Ole Miss looked easy on paper, Oklahoma State out-battled the Rebels in a match that had four third sets. Cal outclassed 2007-08 champions Georgia Tech 4-0 and dropped only six games in their three completed singles matches. North Carolina had the dream start to their NTI campaign, dropping two 6-0 sets in doubles, with their No. 1 team up 5-0 when play was called. They continued momentum into singles, winning at Nos. 1-3, losing 10 games collectively.