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Thursday, April 25, 2024

The UF women's tennis team wasn't able to escape its weekend trip to the state of North Carolina unscathed, but the No. 6 Gators' dual-match results say a lot about their experience.

With its back against the wall following a 4-3 loss at the hands of No. 15 Duke on Friday, UF (4-1) responded like a team vying for a national title should by dismantling No. 5 North Carolina 6-1 on Sunday.

"We looked like a completely different team, to be honest with you," UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. "It looked like we were not quite as comfortable competing Friday night."

The Gators won every doubles match during the weekend, and they used their momentum in doubles to carry them to wins in five of six singles matches Sunday against the Tar Heels.

"They were not happy about losing Friday, but in a way, it made us a better team," Thornqvist said.

Freshman Julia Cohen and sophomore Marrit Boonstra were the only two Gators not to lose a set or a match in singles or doubles all weekend.

The two newcomers also posted their fair share of bagel sets. Cohen won 6-3, 6-0 on Friday, and Boonstra rolled 6-0, 6-0 on Sunday.

"She is so steady," Thornqvist said of Cohen. "She's very professional in her approach. For two hours, you have to execute at a very high level to beat her."

Thornqvist added that Boonstra played well under pressure at the end of close sets against Duke in a 6-4, 7-5 win.

"She just looks now like she's got some more battle scars," Thornqvist said. "We got a glimpse of how good she is."

UF led Duke 2-0 before the Blue Devils rallied to take four of six singles courts.

The match was tied at 3-3 when senior Whitney Benik was unable to steal a third set, losing 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 and clinching the match for Duke.

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"We didn't play poorly, but we didn't play up to our standards on Friday," Thornqvist said. "We had the lead on a couple courts where I thought we were going to be off, but Duke did a good job changing the momentum. And once that momentum changed, we never regained the lead."

Sunday was a different story for UF on the singles courts.

Benik was up 6-5 in the first set before her opponent retired due to injury, giving UF a 2-0 lead once again.

Sophomore Megan Alexander was able to rebound from a straight-set loss on Friday with a 6-1, 6-3 win to clinch the match for UF.

"We were much more resilient while we competed today than we were on Friday," Thornqvist said. "We were serving well, we returned well, we made some adjustments during the match that were necessary. Overall, I just felt like we got better this weekend."

UF will now take a day off before preparing for a home match with rival No. 22 Florida State on Wednesday.

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