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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The time has finally arrived for the UF women's tennis team.

It begins its dual-match season Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex against in-state opponent Stetson.

UF coach Roland Thornqvist said the No. 4 Gators are looking forward to playing in a dual match, their first since May 20 when they fell to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

Now the team is just excited to get started again, no matter who the opponent is.

"Stetson is a really good team," Thornqvist said. "I think we all know that we're better. There are a few things with this match above and beyond the result of the match that are of importance for us, and those are the things I think we're going to ultimately focus on."

Thornqvist said his team will be faced with a couple of early-season issues, including figuring out who will be paired together for doubles play as well as getting two newcomers used to dual-match play. But he said both of these matters are good dilemmas to have.

"A lot of those pleasant problems that we haven't had in years past, we do have this year with eight eligible players," he said. "So the more we play, the merrier."

One of the new additions is freshman Julia Cohen, a much-accomplished junior player who enrolled at UF this month.

Thornqvist said Cohen played in a tournament in Arizona on Tuesday, and the outcome of her match would determine whether she'll make it back to Gainesville in time to be in the singles and doubles lineups for today's match.

The Gators will have a good combination of different experience levels.

Senior Lolita Frangulyan will enter the season-opener on a high note after winning the Flight Two singles draw of the Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships in Las Vegas on Sunday.

"Lolita's playing the best tennis she's played in her four years, which is just great for us," Thornqvist said. "She's really stepped up her game in doubles. Her serve is better. Her volleying is better. Her returns are a ton better, and those are the things that we talked about going into the year that's going to make a difference."

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Fellow seniors Whitney Benik and Diana Srebrovic will play their first matches since Oct. 23.

Thornqvist said the duo will team up on the doubles court and shouldn't be affected by the long layoff.

"I think they enjoy playing together," he said. "I think that they're happy that they get the opportunity to play together again, and we'll probably see some energy from that team tomorrow."

Thornqvist said the best thing about the seniors is the experience they bring to each match.

"They've played together enough to where they can sort of run things on their own," he said. "That's a great advantage to have in a big match."

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