Just when the temperature of the hot streak was beginning to grow, the duos of Florida tennis found their stride in the past four matches to gain early advantages and swing the Gators to easy victories.
But Florida captains McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein battled their toughest doubles opponent yet Thursday: No. 8 Akva Parazinskaite and Fiona Arrese from the Kentucky Wildcats.
The No. 2 couple had been on a eight match win streak but Thursday’s loss clinched a doubles point advantage for the Wildcats. Eventually, Florida’s singles roster swooped in for a clean-up to claim yet another SEC win 5-1.
Kessler and Zein shared their struggles at the beginning of the season but found a way to steer the ship in the right direction. The tough loss brewed on Thursday afternoon brought their momentum back down.
But not all of the blame fell on the captain tandem. Duo Sydney Berlin and Sara Dahlstrom lost by two games to Kentucky’s Ana Tkachenko and Sedi Jacobs. The score leveled and broke off within the first few games but in the end, Tkachenko and Jacobs ran away to seal the deal 6-4.
UF tandem Ida Jarlskog and Layne Sleeth combined their efforts to come out with Florida’s lone doubles victory. Their upset over No. 66 duo Carla Girbau and Elizabeth Stevens was more one-sided after the Florida couple’s 6-3 win.
Although the Wildcats claimed the advantage after doubles play, the Gators refused to let their motors run out of fuel and kept a heavy foot on the accelerator.
Eventually, the tables tipped toward the Gators’ favor, and they almost swept of Kentucky singles roster. Sleeth and Dahlstrom handled their opponents quickly and were the first two matches to conclude.
Stevens took Dahlstrom into a first-set tiebreak, but the Florida freshman clawed her way free from the first set 7-6. And she didn’t look back. Dahlstrom continued to lay down the hurt in the second set and ended with a clean second set sweep 6-0.
Kessler redeemed herself after the tough doubles loss. She won her match easily over No. 47 Akva Parazinskaite although the 6-4, 6-3 score tells a different tale. The games that Parazinskaite won came in the later moments of the bout
The Gators will now get a day of rest before senior day against the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday. The senior ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m. with first serve scheduled for 11 a.m. It will stream on FloridaGators.com with stats.
Contact Jesse Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352