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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

The No. 1 Gators entered Friday’s match against South Carolina State as the Southeastern Conference Tournament champions and fresh off a two week stretch with no games.

They weren’t the only champions at the Ring Tennis Complex, though. SCSU won its conference — the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference — as well.

However, when the two conference champions met on the court, the match was all one-sided.

The Bulldogs just couldn't find their footing against a Gator team that outmatched it in every aspect. And the final score of each match reflected it, as the Gators won big. Five of six Gators won their first set 6-0.

Florida (22-2, 13-0 SEC) defeated South Carolina State (8-11, 4-1 MEAC) 4-0 on Friday to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a match where South Carolina State only took four games to Florida’s 60 in singles.

It was the Gators’ 17th win in a row.

“I thought we played really well,” coach Roland Thornqvist said in a release. “When we started off in doubles, I thought it was clean as a whistle, we made every every return and virtually every first serve. We poached a lot, so the double was pretty clean.”

“Pretty clean” referred to Florida failing drop a game in its two doubles victories against South Carolina State.

No. 42 Josie Kuhlman and Belinda Woolcock defeated Marketa Marcanikova and Andjela Vasic, while No. 4 Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan defeated Intissar Rassif and Dakota Brown.

And singles produced the the same results.

On the bottom three courts the Bulldogs were shut out, losing in straight sets.

Spencer Liang started singles play for the Gators with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Claudia Roca.

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No. 63 Anna Danilina finished close behind, putting away Carla Petreanu 6-0, 6-0 to give Florida a 3-0 lead.

Josie Kuhlman would clinch the match with another 6-0, 6-0 performance over Brown to send Florida to the next round.

“We continued that same theme in singles. It was focused,” Thornqvist said. “I thought we were the better team and we played like it. We stayed focused throughout and I was pleased with the day.”

The Gators will now face off against No. 7 Syracuse (15-8, 7-7 ACC), which defeated Georgia State in a close 4-3 battle earlier on Friday. The match will take place at 3 p.m. on May 14 at the Ring Tennis Complex. The winner will move on to the round of 16 in Tulsa.

Contact Jake Dreilinger at jdrelinger@alligator.org or follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake

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