Gators to open season on Saturday

Jordan McPherson / Alligator Staff UF’s Anna Danilina returns a ball during Florida’s 6-1 win over USF on Jan. 27, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex. Fireworks.

That’s what head coach Roland Thornqvist told fans they should expect to see from the new doubles formation of Anna Danilina and Ingrid Neel. The two had success at the Freeman Memorial Championships two weeks ago, and they plan to carry that with them into the regular season.

However, it’s not just Danilina and Neel who fans should be excited to see, Thornqvist added.

“This is perhaps the most talented team that I’ve had at Florida in 16 years,” he said.

The team is entering the season with a host of accolades, including a No. 1 ranking, the coaches’ pick to win the SEC for the second consecutive year, four top-25 doubles formations and two top-25 players. But according to Thornqvist, the Gators haven’t paid any attention to the outside noise.

“When we had this No. 1 ranking thing come out, I don’t think we spent more than two seconds worrying about that,” he said. “They know there’s zero correlation between the first ranking in January and the last one in May, so they know what’s ahead and they know the work they need to put in to get there. I think the experience will tell them, or has told them, or is telling them that you’ve got to focus on the stuff you can control on the way.”

On Saturday, Florida will try to control its season-opening match against DePaul. The team has been playing matches internally this week in an attempt to finalize a lineup for this weekend’s tournament. However, with an experienced team full of talent, Thornqvist knows that this is just the beginning.

“Although we’re playing at a high level now, I think the longer the season goes, we’re going to continue to improve and evolve as a team,” he said.

The Gators will open their Spring season against DePaul at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of the Florida-DePaul match will face the winner of FIU and USF on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Contact Spencer Thompson at sthompson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @spencemthompson .