Anna Danilina

Senior Anna Danilina closed out her singles match just after teammate Josie Kuhlman won hers. "I was kind of watching (Josie’s) scoreboard,” Danilina said. 

Alan Alvarez de Sotomayor / Alligator Staff

When freshman Katie Kubicz and senior Peggy Porter found themselves down 5-1 during their doubles match on Sunday, they didn’t panic.

Once the pair won the next two games, bringing the score to 5-3, it knew it was over.

“We could feel the momentum shift,” Porter said. “We played a bit closer to the net. When it got to 5-3, we felt pretty confident.”

Porter and Kubicz’s 7-6 win during doubles play helped bring the Gators (9-4, 4-0 SEC) to their sixth straight victory, defeating Texas A&M (10-4, 1-3 SEC) at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville. The 4-0 win is UF’s third shutout in a row.

Florida wasted no time when doubles play began, with the No. 1 team of senior Anna Danilina and freshman Victoria Emma defeating its opponents 6-2 in a mere 26 minutes.

The other two matches went down to the wire, and in an interesting occurrence, both ended at the same time. At the very moment Porter and Kubicz completed their improbable comeback, the team of freshman McCartney Kessler and senior Josie Kuhlman played for its match point. With a 7-5 victory, the Gators took their fourth consecutive doubles point by winning all three doubles matches.

In singles play, Florida rapidly began to close out the match. Kuhlman struck first, defeating Texas A&M’s Macarena Olivares 6-0, 6-2. Almost immediately after Kuhlman went to shake hands with her opponent, Danilina secured her match point and defeated Domenica Gonzalez  6-2, 6-1.

“I was kind of watching (Josie’s) scoreboard,” Danilina said. “And I was like, ‘I need to finish today.’ I came very close on Friday (against LSU), and I really wanted to finish that match.”

Finally, Kessler delivered the clincher, defeating the Aggies’ Tatiana Makarova 6-1, 6-4. Her victory came after a stomach bug kept her out of practice for most of the week.

“McCartney handled it well (against LSU), though not necessarily playing great,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “Today, I think you could tell she was much more confident.”

UF’s time in Gainesville will be short-lived, as the team has a four-game road stretch ahead of it, beginning when it faces off against the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. And Thornqvist insisted the Gators are a much different squad now than they were the last time they geared up for an away stretch.

“It was almost like we were waiting for something bad to happen at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Now, they’re expecting good things to happen, and it makes a big difference when you compete.”

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.