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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Dazzling doubles play from Gators at ITA Southeast Regional Championships

Briggs and Zein finish 3-1 in doubles play and earn runner-up honors in Lake Nona, Florida

<p>Marlee Zein prepares a forehand return against LSU Feb. 26</p>

Marlee Zein prepares a forehand return against LSU Feb. 26

The Gators entered the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Southeast Regional Championships with hopes of qualifying for the National Fall Championships on Nov. 4. Senior Marlee Zein and junior Carly Briggs accomplished just that on the heels of their stellar doubles performances, culminating in a finals appearance Monday.

The Gators duo entered the finals on a hot streak, defeating Naya Tillitt and Mary Courville of Mercer, 8-2, on Friday, and comfortably handling Miami’s Diana Khodan and Maya Tahan, 8-4, the following day. 

Briggs and Zein faced off against fellow Florida doubles partners freshman Alicia Dudeney and senior Sydney Berlin in the semifinals. The Briggs and Zein combo was able to cruise past Dudeney and Berlin by a score of 6-2, 6-3.

Unfortunately, the upperclassman pair hit a wall in Monday’s doubles final, falling to No. 33 ranked doubles pair Kit Gulihur and Ana Paula Melilo of North Florida, 7-5, 2-6 (10-5).

The solid runner-up finish still landed the dynamic doubles pair of Briggs and Zein in the ITA National Fall Championships from Nov. 4-7 

Another doubles pair from the Gators found success this weekend. Berlin and Dudeney took down Ellie Aldrich and Maddy Frediani of Georgia State, 8-0, in the doubles qualifying round. The Florida pair defeated Georgia Tech’s Gia Cohen and Rosie Garcia Gross, 8-4, on Friday and overpowered Central Florida duo Marie Mattel and Nandini Sharma, 8-5, Saturday.

Junior Emma Shelton made her mark in singles play, becoming the only Gator to advance to the quarterfinals. Shelton captured her first ranked victory of the season by defeating Yellow Jackets No. 65 Ava Hrastar, 6-3, 6-3, on the way to the quarterfinals Sunday.

Shelton fell in a  close back-and-forth battle on Sunday to junior Ania Hertel of Georgia, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1.

Briggs and Zein have a short break before the start of the ITA National Fall Championships next month in San Diego, California. 

The rest of the Gators will have to wait until the ITA’s at-large selection process at the end of this month to see if they punched their tickets to California. 

Contact Brenda Bogle at Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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