Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Florida, Six Is Enough Women's Team Is 20-2 despite Player Shortage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Florida, Six Is Enough Women's Team Is 20-2 despite Player Shortage

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

GAINESVILLE -- University of Florida freshman Lindsay Dawaf loves to throw a Frisbee with friends. But she didn't dare do it the past few months. It could have cost the Gators a shot at the national tennis title.

Especially this past week, when one wrong step or awkward twist of her wrist could have sidelined Dawaf and forced the Gators to forfeit tomorrow's opening-round NCAA Regional Tournament match against Bethune-Cookman College at the Ring Tennis Complex on the UF campus.

NCAA rules mandate that teams play with at least six players during the NCAA Tournament, and a significant injury to Dawaf -- or any other player -- would mean UF would have just five players and not be allowed to compete.

But this isn't a new situation. The Gators went 20-2 and finished the regular season ranked fifth in the ITA Rankings, all with just six players on the roster.

"It's something that I don't think many people are aware of -- that only six girls played a whole season, every single match," UF coach Andy Brandi said.

"When you consider the teams that they played, the record that they had, to play six people like that, it's an amazing feat."

UF was left with just six players before the season began after eligibility questions arose about recruit Aneta Soukup. But UF rolled to a 13-0 start -- beating 11 teams ranked in the top 50 -- before losing to No. 2 Duke. The loss came one match after Stephanie Hazlett re-aggravated an injury -- she stretched the ACL in her knee -- during a victory over Tennessee. Doctors told Hazlett the ligament may tear at any time, but she played the remainder of the season with a heavy brace.

"Stephanie's done a great job of playing through a lot of pain," Brandi said. "They all have."

UF, which will play the Miami-Arkansas winner tomorrow if it beats B-CC (8-12) today, has gotten it done. …

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