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April 15, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Going for its fourth-straight SEC regular-season championship on Sunday, No. 2 Florida women's tennis succeeded in its goal by defeating No. 18 Vanderbilt 4-1 on the road in Nashville, TN. UF earned a share of the title by finishing the league schedule with the same 11-1 conference record as No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 4 Georgia. The regular-season crown was not only the fourth-straight for the Gators but also the team's seventh in the last eight seasons. In fact, the SEC has only sponsored women's tennis for 34 total seasons and Florida has won 27 regular-season titles in that span. Sunday's victory also marked the first time that a UF senior class (Lauren Embree and Caroline Hitimana) won a SEC regular-season title in each of its four years. The Gators will enter the 2013 SEC Tournament as a No. 3 seed as the Bulldogs won the draw for the top seed and the Aggies held a tiebreaker over Florida for the No. 2 seed.
Also putting together a terrific performance over the weekend was the Gators baseball team, which earned a series sweep for the first time this season and accomplished the feat by taking down No. 8 South Carolina in the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida has now won four-straight games against top-10 opponents and is back above .500 for the first time since Feb. 20. UF saw junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford pitch a solid 6.2-inning outing on Thursday, a good sight for a team that has had struggles with starting pitching this season. On Saturday, the Gators exploded in the sixth, posting a 10-run breakout inning that fueled Florida to a 14-5 victory in the series finale.
Tim Tebow was one of the first members of the New York Jets at the team's practice facility on Monday for the team's first voluntary workout of the season. According to multiple reporters on site at the facility, Tebow arrived between 6-6:30 a.m. and was as gung-ho as ever to get started. Tebow is inexplicably still a member of the Jets and will operate as such until the team finally gets rid of him (likely by eventually cutting him when it does not find a trade partner). According to Mike Klis of The Denver Post, one reason why New York has yet to cut Tebow loose is the fact that it owes the Denver Broncos $1.53 million whether or not he is on the team this year. The Jets are hoping to get something - anything - for Tebow via trade (hopefully including an agreement for a team to cover a portion of that money) in order to mitigate what they perceive to be a horrible trade.
One of the weekend biggest Florida-related stories is actually quite depressing as it was announced on Friday that former Gators swimmer Laura Booth, a 17-time All-American who was a member of an NCAA Championship team at UF, has been diagnosed with acute leukemia and is in need of blood donations. Those who wish to help neither need to live in Booth's area (New Orleans, LA) nor possess her specific blood type. Any blood donation made anywhere across the country can help as long as the donor lets the facility know that the donation is being made in her name. For more information on how you can donate blood and assist in her recovery, CLICK HERE
Results at the 2013 Masters were not overly positive for either Florida golfer that participated in the event. Senior T.J. Vogel missed the cut line by four strokes after posting a total of 152 over the first two days of the event. Veteran Brian Gay made the cut with a combined 146 on Thursday and Friday but repeated those numbers over the weekend to finish +4 for the event, 13 strokes behind victor Adam Scott. Gay received $32,000 for his efforts and 29 FedEx Cup points.
Sometimes the most difficult choice can be the right one. That appears to be the case for former Gators point guard Nick Calathes, who decided to spurn the NBA again this off-season in order to continue his fantastic European career. Calathes on Saturday was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012-13 Eurocup as he led his team (PBC Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar) into the championship game. According to the league, "Calathes set a Eurocup record by becoming the first player to dish more than 100 assists in one season during the competition's 11-year existence." Calathes also ranked second on his team in scoring, rebounds, steals and fouls drawn. Lokomotiv wound up defeating Uxue Bilbao Basket 75-64 in the finals with Calathes posting 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in 37 minutes.