Graduate student McCartney Kessler gained Florida’s first singles point in a tight-knit match against Alabama sophomore Loudmilla Bencheikh.
Kessler was quick to take a 4-3 advantage over No. 98 Bencheikh in the first set. Due to an unfortunate injury, Bencheikh had to retire and hand the win to the UF graduate student.
Kessler remained perfect with her SEC singles record of 11-0.
No. 15 Florida women’s tennis (17-4, 9-2 SEC) extended its SEC winning streak to nine games against No. 42 Alabama (14-8, SEC 4-6) Friday at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. The doubles competition kept the audience captivated at all times.
There was a sense of deja vu when Florida found themselves in a two-point deadlock in all three doubles matchups, but every Gators duo shifted into gear in order to pull ahead and gain the advantage.
Freshman Bente Spee and senior Marlee Zein were the first ones to pull ahead. In their first pairing of the spring, they quickly pocketed the first win of the afternoon. Alabama sophomore Anna Parkhomenko and freshman Petra Sedlackova fought valiantly but were toppled by the Florida duo, 6-3.
Over on court three, the Florida junior duo of Carly Briggs and Emma Shelton were not far behind. In a similar fashion, the Gators effortlessly dominated the Crimson Tide’s graduate student sister duo of Ola and Kasia Pitak, securing the doubles point.
Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist thought his doubles teams excelled to overcome the initial deadlock to pull ahead.
“We have the ability to be aggressive, the ability to use formations that help and they did a good job communicating on all three courts,” Thornqvist said. “ I was really pleased with the tone that set for us."
Following Kessler’s ranked win over Bencheikh, senior Sydney Berlin added another singles point for the Gators on court six. Berlin dominated for a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over graduate student Kasia Pitak to earn her 14th singles victory of the season.
With a 3-0 lead, the Orange and Blue needed one more singles win to clinch the match. Freshman Alicia Dudeney did just that over in court four. Stuck in a racket-for-racket battle, the Hove, United Kingdom, native struggled to maintain an advantage over Parkhomenko in the first set.
Dudeney composed herself and held onto her 4-3 lead to then secure a 6-4 set victory. However, only half the battle has been won. She used the momentum for her set win and claimed the fourth and final point for Florida with a 6-4, 6-1 win.
The Gators have earned another SEC win as they near the end of the season, looking for their 10th-consecutive win, Florida hosts No. 13 Auburn Sunday at 12 p.m.
Contact Vanessa Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @_vanessa_sanch.