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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Briggs and Dudeney shine in Florida’s season opener, signal great things to come for the Gators

The doubles partners offered standout performances for the Gators in Chapel Hill

Florida's Marlee Zein competes in a match against Central Florida on Feb. 9, 2021.
Florida's Marlee Zein competes in a match against Central Florida on Feb. 9, 2021.

After a four-month break from competition, the stage was set for the Gators to begin the 2021-22 season at the Kitty Harrison Invitational in North Carolina. 

The Florida women’s tennis team tallied 10 singles victories and 13 total for the three-day competition in a field including the likes of Virginia, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas, Auburn, Duke, William & Mary, Old Dominion, Louisiana State, Northwestern, Princeton and Charlotte.

Junior Carly Briggs dominated this weekend for the Gators, going undefeated in singles and doubles play on the first day of competition. 

Briggs defeated Mariana Manyoma-Velasquez of Kansas and Kacie Harvey of North Carolina by scores of 6-0, 6-3 and 6-0, 6-3, respectively. She also teamed with doubles partner Alicia Dudeney to defeat fellow SEC competitors Yu Chen and Adeline Flach of Auburn by a score of 6-2.

Dudeney picked up another victory on the first day of the invitational in singles play with a comfortable win against Sofia Cabezas of Iowa State, 6-1, 6-1.

The dynamic duo continued their excellent play going into Saturday. The pair cruised by No. 30 doubles pair Briana Crowley and Christina Hand of Northwestern by a score of 6-1. They would later defeat Ellie Coleman and Eliza Omirou of Duke, 6-4, and punch their ticket to the doubles final on Sunday.

Ranked No. 41 in singles, Briggs would also qualify for the singles final on Sunday with an impressive win over No. 77 Tatsiana Sasnouskaya of Old Dominion, who retired after trailing 3-0.

Briggs and Dudeney would fall short of winning the doubles title after a loss to Wake Forest’s Casie Wooten and Samantha Martinelli, 6-2. Briggs also lost her singles final to No. 82 Elizabeth Scotty of North Carolina 6-1, 6-1.

While Briggs and Dudeney proved to be serious competition on the court, other members of the Gators women’s tennis team made their mark this weekend with impressive play all around.

Freshman Emily De Oliveira notched her first win as Gator on Saturday with a dominating performance against Shaye Longwell of LSU, 6-2,6-3. The freshman struggled the first day of competition, falling to Ena Babic of LSU 6-0, 6-4, 

Bente Spee, another first-year, collected a singles win against Mia Ahmad of Wake Forest in an unprecedented comeback, scoring a 12-10 super tie-break. The freshman duo would, unfortunately, lose all three of their doubles play matches for the weekend.

Marlee Zein defeated Raffaela Alhach of William & Mary, 6-3, 7-6 (4)  on the first day of play to begin her senior season. She would lose to No. 96 Safiya Carrington of LSU 6-4, 1-6, 10-6 the same day.

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Zein, sadly, could not get it going on the second day either, falling to Ellie Coleman of Duke 6-3, 6-4. She teamed with doubles partner Sydney Berlin, but the pair would also lose all three of their doubles matches for the weekend.

Despite her doubles woes, Berlin collected the only singles or doubles victory for the Gators on Sunday, defeating Manyoma-Velasquez 6-3, 6-3.

The team looks to take what they have learned from this opener into Tampa, Florida for the Bedford Cup on Oct.1.

Contact Brenda Bogle at bbogle@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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