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Friday, January 28, 2022

Florida women’s tennis: 2021-22 roster preview

Five new additions highlight returning talent for the 2021-22 Florida women’s tennis roster

<p>Florida&#x27;s McCartney Kessler serves a ball to start a game versus Texas A&amp;M in 2021. </p>

Florida's McCartney Kessler serves a ball to start a game versus Texas A&M in 2021.

Nine student-athletes round out the Gators women’s tennis team for the 2021-22 season on a team including both new and returning faces to the tennis program.

Sydney Berlin, Senior, Buffalo, New York

Berlin finished the previous season on a six-match winning streak and held a record of 13-4 in dual singles play. Selected to the Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll, Berlin proved she was one of the best closers on the team with five match-clinching wins. She found success in doubles play with her partner Sara Dahlstrom, where the pairing generated five wins in 19 matches for the Gators.

Carly Briggs, Junior, Calhoun, Georgia

Briggs transferred from Tennessee and signed with the Gators in June 2021. Briggs ranked No. 41 in singles, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s (ITA) preseason national rankings. At Tennessee, she was named an SEC All-Newcomer Team honoree and finished No. 62 in the final ITA rankings. Briggs was also selected to compete at the ITA Women’s All American Championships, which begin Oct. 4.

Sara Dahlstrom, Sophomore, Stockholm, Sweden

Dahlstrom signed with the Gators in February 2020. In her first season with the Gators, she helped the team finish 10-3 in conference play. She was a first-year SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and named to the SEC All-Freshman team. According to the Florida Gators’ website, she is a right-handed hitter with a strong backhand.

Emily De Oliveira, Freshman, Bradenton, Florida

De Oliveira is one of the youngest new faces on the Florida tennis scene. She is one of three incoming freshmen on the team. She attended Allendale Academy, a private school in Clearwater, Florida. De Oliveira is set to start her fall season for the Gators on Sept. 24 at the Kitty Harrison Invitational.

Alicia Dudeney, Freshman, Hove, United Kingdom

Dudeney signed with the Gators back in Nov. 2020. She won the Lawn Tennis Association’s 18 and under doubles national championship with (partner) in 2021. She won three matches at the Junior Wimbledon competition this past summer and made it all the way to the singles quarterfinals. Dudeney and her doubles partner, Marlee Zein, rank No. 39 in the ITA Preseason National Rankings

McCartney Kessler, Graduate Student, Calhoun, Georgia

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Kessler went on a seven-match winning streak at the end of last season. She made it to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Doubles Championship with Zein, her old partner, and racked up an 11-6 record in doubles dual match play in the process. She opens this fall ranked No. 4 in singles, the highest on the team, and No. 23 in doubles with new transfer Emma Shelton.

Emma Shelton, Junior, Gainesville, Florida

Shelton is no stranger to Florida tennis despite being a transfer from South Carolina. Her brother, Ben, is starting his second season for the Florida men’s tennis team and her father, Bryan, is entering his tenth season as the head coach on the men’s side. With the Gamecocks, Shelton helped her team reach the NCAA tournament and closed out her season with a 6-2 record. She was selected as the 2020 ITA Carolina Region Rookie of the Year and named as a 2020 ITA Scholar-Athlete. She is ranked No. 84 in singles preseason rankings.

Bente Spee, Freshman, Heemstede, Netherlands

Spee is another incoming freshman to keep a close eye on. She comes into Florida having earned five International Tennis Federation junior doubles titles, and she finished runner-up in her home country’s 2020 national championship. She is a five-time national junior champion and represented the Netherlands on the world stage in competitions such as the Winter Cups, Summer Cups, Junior Fed Cup and European Championships.

Marlee Zein, Senior, Sugar Land, Texas

Zein is coming off an impressive junior season where she had an 11-6 record in dual match doubles and a 10-9 record in dual match singles. She was able to climb the ranking last year and made it all the way to No. 36 in singles. Zein was able to defeat three ranked opponents last season, two of which ranked in the top 50. Zein ranked No. 64 in singles in the ITA Preseason National Rankings, and she will join Briggs at the ITA Women’s All American Championships.

The fall portion of their schedule begins this Friday at the Kitty Harrison Invitational in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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



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