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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The No. 15 UF women's tennis team's season ended with a 4-2 loss to No. 2 Georgia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tennis Championships on Friday.

It was the third meeting this spring between the Southeastern Conference rivals, and the upset-minded Gators struggled in doubles before giving the Bulldogs all they could handle in College Station, Texas.

The exit could easily be labeled as heartbreaking, but these players' spirits couldn't be shattered.

UF coach Roland Thornqvist was aware of who his team was facing after splitting a pair of close dual matches. Georgia was what he thought it was.

"We knew we were playing a team that was picked to be a favorite for the national championship," Thornqvist said. "We were probably underdogs in most of the spots. We all felt that we had a chance."

The Gators (16-10, 7-4 SEC) gave up the pivotal doubles point and Brooke Allen's No. 6 singles match to find themselves in a 2-0 hole. Freshman Jessica Alexander scored the first point for UF by defeating No. 93 Monika Dancevic 6-4, 6-1.

The eighth- and ninth-ranked players slugged it out for three sets on Court 1, but UF's Marrit Boonstra fell to Chelsey Gullickson 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, putting Georgia in the position of needing one more win to advance to the Elite 8.

Jo Mather stalled a Bulldogs' celebration with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 56 Nadja Gilchrist.

With No. 40 Anastasia Revzina locked in a third set with No. 55 Yvette Hyndman, Barbara Pinterova reached a second-set tiebreaker against Naoko Ueshima, who has beaten the freshman in two of the last three matches they've played against each other.

Though Pinterova got off to a quick 5-1 start, Ueshima was able to thwart the attack and even the score. Ueshima eventually took the tiebreaker and the match 6-3, 7-6 (2), clinching the win for Georgia (27-2, 10-1 SEC).

Revzina and Hyndman did not finish.

"All the credit to our players, because they fought back and gave us a chance," Thornqvist said.

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"I felt that we did what we could and fought as hard as we could," he said, "but they were certainly the better team today."

Georgia advanced to face Duke on Monday night in the national semifinals.

SINGLES AND DOUBLES UPDATE: The championships aren't over for eight UF players. The men's and women's teams will each be represented in the singles and doubles draws, with singles beginning today.

Boonstra and Revzina will compete in the women's first round. No. 23 Carlos Cueto and No. 33 Alex Lacroix will play on the men's side. The second round is Wednesday.

Doubles play opens on Wednesday. The women's No. 1 (No. 18 Boonstra and Mather) and No. 2 (No. 25 Alexander and Revzina) teams are in action along with the men's No. 1 doubles team (No. 25 Antoine Benneteau and Joey Burkhardt.)

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