Florida’s and Michigan’s women’s tennis teams couldn’t be any more different.
The Wolverines are 13-4. The Gators are hovering around .500 at a 10-9 record with only three matches remaining in the regular season. Michigan has a roster full of veterans, while Florida has a roster that returns only three players from 2018.
But the biggest difference between both teams is where they win on the court. The Wolverines have the most success on the first three courts. UF struggles everywhere but Court 1.
These differences will be present when they face off on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex in a match Florida may need to win to keep its postseason hopes alive.
If the Gators don’t finish the season at a .500 record, they will not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. A loss to Michigan puts UF at an even record with matches against Savannah State and South Carolina coming up this weekend.
Michigan senior Kate Fahey leads the Wolverines on Court 1 with a 12-1 record. The trio of senior Brienne Minor and juniors Chiara Lommer and Giulia Pairone have anchored the rest of their upper courts to a 25-8 record.
Florida sophomore Ida Jarlskog will have a tough test when she takes on Fahey. Jarlskog has won 11 matches on the main court, but has lost three as well.
“She did make one adjustment in her style of play,” coach Roland Thornqvist said in a release following Florida’s 4-2 win over Auburn on Sunday. “I thought she was crowding the ball too much, trying to hit the ball too hard in the first set, and then she started to let the game come to her. This really made all the difference for her.”
The Gators will need to win at other positions on the court if they want to take the match against the Wolverines.
Michigan is not particularly strong in doubles play. Its Court 1 duo of Fahey and Minor are undefeated this season, but the Wolverines struggle on the other two courts. Florida could take advantage to jump out to an early lead.
Should Courts 1, 2 and 3 be a problem for the Gators, they will need to see production from the latter half of the starting lineup. The match is a first-to-four-points affair, so winning the doubles point and gaining victories in Courts 4, 5 and 6 will take pressure off the top of the lineup.
With the season nearing its end, Florida is trying to avoid finishing with a losing record for the first time in program history. If it can do that, it will have a chance of qualifying for an NCAA Tournament bid.
“We talked about that in the locker room,” Thornqvist said, “and it’s really going to be a mini playoff type scenario going down the stretch.”
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake and contact him at email@example.com.
Florida sophomore Ida Jarlskog holds an 11-3 record on Court 1 this season. She will likely face Michigan’s Kate Fahey on Thursday.