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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Florida women’s tennis gains third sweep of the season

The Gators shutout Ole Miss at home for fifth-consecutive win

<p>Florida&#x27;s Sarah Dahlstrom during a match against Central Florida on Feb. 9, 2021. The Gators women&#x27;s team shut down Ole Miss, 7-0 Friday night.</p>

Florida's Sarah Dahlstrom during a match against Central Florida on Feb. 9, 2021. The Gators women's team shut down Ole Miss, 7-0 Friday night.

The No. 16 Florida (13-4, 5-2 SEC) women’s tennis refused to drop a single set in its match against No. 44 Ole Miss (8-7, 2-5 SEC) Friday night at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. 

Florida consecutively silenced both South Florida and Alabama-Birmingham 7-0 in previous matchups. However, Friday was the first sweep of the season against a ranked team. 

The doubles competition intensified as each duel was separated by a one-point margin. 

On court one, senior Marlee Zein and graduate student McCartney Kessler were stuck in an early 2-2 deadlock against the Ole Miss tandem of senior Sabina Machalova and freshman Rachel Krzyzak. Stuck in a back-and-forth struggle, the Gators pair pulled a notable 6-4 win before the Rebels could respond.

Next door on court two, UF junior Emma Shelton and sophomore Sara Dahlstrom seized an early 3-0 lead, but costly slip-ups triggered a comeback for their Rebel counterparts. Freshman Ludmila Kareisova and senior Lilliam Gabrielsen picked apart Shelton’s and Dahlstrom’s weak points to bring the match back to a 3-3 tie. 

Florida was stuck in limbo, attempting to record the match point and gain the doubles point advantage. 

Ole Miss refused to die, smacking back the wicked-fast deliveries the UF couple had to offer.

Nevertheless, Shelton and Dahlstrom finally defeated their opponents, 7-5 after a prolonged rally to pocket the doubles point and waltz to the singles section with swagger. 

Head coach Roland Thornqvist was pleased with the double's performance. 

"(Florida) shown over the course of the season that they're very good, except for the first 10 minutes,” Thornqvist said.“Then they get their stride going and figure out what to do. We have to fix the first 10 minutes  doubles, but to their credit, they really helped everybody else that they got back into the match."

Moving on to the singles competition, Florida made sure to dominate Ole Miss swiftly and soundly. 

Dahlstrom claimed the first victory for the Gators, quickly toppling Gabrielsen in two sets6-1, 6-2. Not far behind was No. 58 Zein and freshman Alicia Dudeney, racing between each other to see who would clinch their match first. 

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Dudeney defeated Krzyzak first, but Zein wasn’t far behind. She clinched the match against Kareisova 6-0, 6-1, minutes later to give the Gators a 4-0 advantage.

Florida stayed true to its dominant strategy through the remaining three single matchups, despite the win being confirmed. Junior Carly Briggs downed sophomore Reka Zadori in a quick 6-0, 6-3 motion. Right after, No. 22 Kesseler took down her ranked-opponent No. 69 Machalova 6-3, 6-3.

To ensure the shutout victory Senior Sydney Berlin defeated red-shirt freshman Elysia Pool, 6-4, 6-3 over on court six. Berlin's win gave the Gators their first regular-season victory without dropping a single set of the season. 

Coach Thornqvist thought the team was excellent to close out the day.

"In singles, we played some excellent first sets,” Thornqvist said. “Now we're physical, we're holding onto the ball, using both corners and we're starting to look like we wanted to look at this time of year when, hopefully, in a few weeks it'll start getting more humid and warmer. We should be a tough site to play if we do it right."

The Gators return to action Sunday to match up against their third-consecutive ranked team, No. 54 Mississippi State. First serve takes place at 1 p.m. at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville.

Contact Vanessa Sanchez at vsanchez@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @_vanessa_sanch.

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