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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A commanding sweep from the Gators in Tampa, Kessler appears in first professional finals

The Gators show out at the Bedford Cup in Tampa, Florida, and Kessler competes in the finals at the 15k ITF Pro Tennis Open in Lubbock, Texas

Florida's McCartney Kessler competes during a Feb. 26 match against LSU.
Florida's McCartney Kessler competes during a Feb. 26 match against LSU.

The Florida women’s tennis team claimed a tidy sweep of  the singles and doubles titles at the Bedford Cup this weekend on the strength of stellar performances from junior Emma Shelton, freshman Bente Spee and freshman Alicia Dudeney. 

The Gators collected 13 singles victories and 19 total wins for the three-day competition in Tampa, Florida, which hosted a field of Florida-based schools including Central Florida, Florida International, North Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast and South Florida.

Doubles partners Shelton and Spee defeated Ines Bakrar and Yasmine Kabbaj of FIU, 8-6, on Sunday to clinch the doubles title. The Gators duo reached the final match with impressive wins against Nandini Sharma and Marie Mattel of UCF (6-1) and FAU doubles partners Katerina Filip and Greta Schieroni (6-3).

The singles final was a solely orange and blue affair with Dudeney and Shelton meeting head-to-head for the title. Dudeney would pull off the victory over her fellow teammate, 6-4, 6-1, to deny Shelton a second title of the trip.

Dudeney started the weekend emphatically with a win against Alexandria Mjos of the Bulls, 6-2, 6-1 on day one. She collected two more victories against UCF’s Mattel and Sharma, 6-1, 6-1 and 6-4, 6-1, respectively, on day two.

Despite her success on the singles court, Dudeney and her doubles partner, Emily De Oliveira, fell to Sharma and fellow Knight Jaleesa Leslie, 6-3 on the third day of competition. The pair found some success the first two days, however, racking up victories against the Ospreys’ Annabelle Davis and Summer Yardley, 6-1, and UCF duo Leslie and Nadja Bay Christians, 6-3.

Florida’s Sydney Berlin recorded a singles win on the third day of the competition defeating Leslie, 7-5, 6-4. She defeated the Eagles’ Emma Bardet, 7-6 (6), 6-3, on day one, and Sean Lodzki of  UNF, 6-1, 6-0, on day two for an undefeated weekend.

In Lubbock, Texas, graduate student McCartney Kessler turned heads at the 15k International Tennis Federation Pro Tennis Open. Kessler finished as the tournament runner-up, after falling to Adriana Reami in the championship battle, 7-6, 6-1.

Kessler put together a strong tournament from start to finish. She defeated Sophie Williams and Olivia Peet in qualifying matches by scores of 6-0, 6-2, and 6-1, 10-1. Kessler defeated Metka Komac 6-4, 6-1 and Fernanda Labrana, 6-0, 6-2, to move on to the quarterfinal match against Anita Sahdiieva. 

Before ultimately falling short of the title, Kessler would defeat Sahdiieva 6-0, 6-2. In the semifinals, Kessler took down Anhzelika Isaeva comfortably 6-4, 6-2.

Two Gators now set their sights on the ITA All-American Championships starting Oct. 4. Senior Marlee Zein and junior Carly Briggs are competing in the qualifying rounds.

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

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