Last year, Stanford was defeated by Florida in the NCAA championship match. This year, it hoped to get its revenge.
But with the swing of her racket on the meet’s final point, senior Josie Kuhlman put the Cardinal’s hopes to rest.
Much like Friday’s match against Saint Mary’s, UF’s matchup with Stanford at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium in Stanford, California, on Saturday went down to the wire, ending in a 4-3 victory for UF.
“Every time we play Stanford, it almost always goes to the wire,” coach Roland Thornqvist said in a release. “They bring out the best in us and I think vice-versa.”
Just like they did against the Gaels on Friday, the Gators once again dropped the doubles point. Florida hasn’t won the opening point of a dual match since Feb. 9 when it defeated Wisconsin 5-0, but with victories in its previous two contests, UF is now 2-3 when it loses the doubles point.
Singles play was closely contested on Saturday, with four of the six matches going to three sets. Senior Anna Danilina, the No. 9 player in the country, lost her second straight singles match (6-1, 2-6, 6-4). The Cardinal also picked up a victory over freshman Victoria Emma, who came out strong in the first set but dropped the next two sets (3-6, 6-3, 6-3).
Despite losing on two courts in hard-fought battles, the play from UF’s first-year players helped even things up. Freshman McCartney Kessler had to win seven games to secure her victory in the second set (6-4, 7-5) while freshman Katie Kubicz took opponent Kimberly Yee to three sets before finishing her off (6-4, 3-6, 6-2). With the overall score tied 3-3, all eyes went to court No. 2, where Kuhlman was locked in battle with Stanford’s Caroline Lampl.
The first set was close, with Kuhlman just edging out Lampl 7-5. The second set went to Lampl in a landslide, defeating Kuhlman 6-1. Kuhlman didn’t let Lampl use that momentum, however, and showcased her own dominant performance as she took the decisive third set 6-2, clinching the win for Florida and adding another chapter to the rivalry of the two teams that have combined to win six of the last eight NCAA titles.
“It’s funny, but I didn’t know the team score at all,” Kuhlman said in a release. “Toward the very end, I had a vibe that I was the clinching match because the team was all excited.”
UF’s long road trip will continue on March 1, where it will begin SEC play with a match against Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.