Josie Kuhlman

Senior Josie Kuhlman lost the third and deciding set in the clinching match for Oklahoma State Wednesday night. 

Alligator File Photo

 Senior women’s tennis player Josie Kuhlman couldn’t help but feel confident.

She was leading 5-1 during her third set against Oklahoma State’s Megan McCray in a match that would decide the outcome of Wednesday’s dual meet.

But as the crowd at the Greenwood Tennis Complex in Stillwater, Oklahoma, began to cheer louder and louder and McCray settled into a groove, Kuhlman’s initial confidence started to diminish.

McCray won six consecutive games to win the final set in what would be the clinching match for the Cowgirls, coming back to help her team seal a 4-3 defeat over the Gators.

Kuhlman’s loss to McCray (5-7, 6-2, 7-5) capped off a shocking collapse for Florida.

UF took the opening doubles point after the duo of Kuhlman and freshman McCartney Kessler as well as the pair of senior Anna Danilina and freshman Victoria Emma each won their matches.

After freshman Katie Kubicz emerged victorious against Shir Hornung (6-0, 6-4), Emma fell to Katarina Stresnakova (6-2, 6-4) and Danilina defeated Vladica Babic (1-6, 6-3, 6-2), Florida had a 3-1 lead. The team only needed one more point to close out the dual meet, but Oklahoma State refused to give in.

Every remaining match was a brutal back and forth affair, with all three going to a decisive third set. Senior Peggy Porter was defeated by Sofia Blanco (6-0, 3-6, 6-2) while freshman McCartney Kessler dropped her match to Marina Guinart (5-7, 6-3, 6-4). With the meet tied 3-3, McCray’s comeback on Kuhlman sealed Florida’s fate.

“Absolute heartbreaker,” coach Roland Thornqvist said in a release. “Losing this match tonight is absolutely painful for us.”

Despite the defeat, Thornqvist said the team’s play during the loss was too impressive to translate to more losses.

“If we can play tennis like this all the time, then we're going to get our fair share of wins down the road," he said.

A story from floridagators.com contributed to this report. 

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].

River Wells is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida women’s tennis team. He has previously covered UF swimming and diving. He has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.