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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Gators cap-off regular season with a visit to South Carolina

No. 13 Florida takes a final road trip through Columbia, South Carolina, to improve win streak

The Gators head into their last regular-season game. Photo from UF-LSU game Feb. 26.
The Gators head into their last regular-season game. Photo from UF-LSU game Feb. 26.

Gray clouds and thunderbolts struck the afternoon skies over the campus of South Carolina Saturday afternoon. When the raindrops soaked the courts, the umpires delayed the match.

But Mother Nature refused to yield. The umpires had no other choice but to postpone the duel to Tuesday. Now, lineups are set and the final regular-season match will carry on.

A three-day delay could accidentally press the brakes on the No. 13 Gators, who beat down their last six opponents. But they can turn everything around with one last win on the road.

The path toward a seventh consecutive win tracks along with the performances of the Florida doubles, which carry a subpar 22-23 record. Team captains Marlee Zein and McCartney Kessler, however, remain the diamonds in the rough when they hit the floor together.

Although they find themselves on a two-game skid, the couple can combine their solo talents to stay within hands reach. The dual against Kentucky’s Akvile Parazinskaite and Fiona Arrese went into a 7-6 nailbiter, but they fell by two sets to Vanderbilt’s No. 54 Anna Ross and Holly Staff.

No. 16 Mia Horvit and Megan Davies lead South Carolina’s doubles, but their record has teetered. In their last 11 matchups, the duo posted a 5-6 mark with every downfall arriving at the hands of top-ranked opponents like LSU’s No. 14 Nina Gessler and Eden Richardson.

Sophomore Emma Shelton returns to the floor for the Gamecocks to continue her own singles five-match streak. Shelton found her home on South Carolina’s third court, which means she lines up with Florida senior Ida Jarlskog.

The Swedish racket-swinger rode into the final weeks on cruise control. She beat down her opponents in two sets or left matches unfinished due to a teammate clinching with a match point.

The first serve of the regular-season finale will take place at noon from Columbia, South Carolina. The battle in Carolina Tennis center will stream live on FloridaGators.com along with stats. 

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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