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Photo Finish Decides 2009 Florida Campus Tennis Championships

Posted on March 13, 2009

By Tori Townsend, USTA Florida

Fifteen college teams representing eight universities traveled to the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach for the second year in a row to compete in the 2009 USTA Florida Campus Championship, Feb. 28-March 1. The University of Florida (UF) Gators 'A' team captured the title, defeating the University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights 'A' team, 26-25 in an exciting final that came down to a super tiebreak. Both teams, along with the University of South Florida (USF), will represent USTA Florida at the 2009 USTA National Campus Championship, April 16-18 in Surprise, Ariz.

The event began with round robin play on a gorgeous Saturday between five teams in each of their respective pools. Pool A included UF 'A', Florida State University, Stetson, Florida International University (FIU) 'B' and UCF 'C'; Pool B consisted of UCF 'A', UCF 'E', University of Miami (UM) 'B', FIU 'A' and UF 'B'; Pool C comprised USF, UCF 'B', Flagler College, UM 'A', and UCF 'D'. The top ten teams from Saturday, determined by their wins/loss record and game winning percentage, advanced to the Gold Division (championship flight). The bottom five teams advanced to the Silver Division (consolation draw) and both divisions then used a standard compass draw to finish match play on Sunday.

Weather affected match play on the final day of competition as rain delayed play for three hours. Even though the tournament resumed, players had to battle through uncharacteristic wind gusts of 45mph and temperatures reaching as low as 39 degrees with the wind chill. In the semifinals, UF 'A' defeated FSU 30-5, while UCF 'A' defeated UCF 'B' 24-21. The championship match went on at 5:30 p.m., matching UCF 'A' against defending Campus Champions, the Florida Gators.

UCF 'A' took women's singles and men's singles, while UF 'A' won women's doubles and men's doubles. After four matches, UCF 'A' was in the lead with 20 games to UF's 18 games. UF 'A' squeaked out a win in the mixed doubles, 6-5, which gave the Gators the extra point they needed to tie the score in overtime, 25-25. In the 7 point super tiebreak, UCF 'A' jumped ahead 6-3 and needed simply one point to claim the USTA Campus Championship title. Call it experience or luck, but whatever it was, UF 'A' had it when they needed it most. The defending champions won four straight points to take the match and USTA Campus Championship title.

"The Campus Championship was a blast," said Michelle Willis, Tournament Director and Team Tennis Coordinator. "It was great that so many teams were able to make the trip even though some were already on Spring Break. I was thrilled at the level of play for the championship match and the Gators and Knights put on a great show."

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