The Florida women’s tennis team did not see many wins against Auburn at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex Sunday afternoon.
After holding a nine-game winning streak for around a month, No. 15 Florida (17-5, 9-3) fell to No. 13 Auburn (18-4, 9-2) 1-6. The SEC matchup was highlighted by highly contested doubles action that preceded the Gator's downfall.
The Tigers went straight into battle with Florida and gained an early advantage.
Senior Sydney Berlin and junior Carly Briggs had a solid start, taking a 3-1 lead against the Auburn duo of junior Carolyn Ansari and graduate student Madeline Meredith. However, the Tigers responded with dominant force to take the match 6-3.
Over on court one, Florida freshmen Alicia Dudeney and McCartney Kessler gave a spectacular performance against Auburn’s No. 12 doubles team of junior Selin Ovunc and sophomore Ariana Arseneault. After gaining a 3-1 lead, the Gators duo did not hesitate to race to a 6-3 victory.
With the doubles point up for grabs, all eyes focused on freshman Bente Spee and senior Marlee Zein on court two. Although they put out a valiant effort, the Gators found themselves cut short against Auburn graduate student Georgia Axon and sophomore Adeline Flach.
The Gator pair was in a 1-3 predicament early in the set, but climbed their way out and gained a 5-4 lead. However, the lead was short-lived as the Tigers came in and battled it out for a 7-6(2) win, gaining Auburn the doubles point.
Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist was disappointed in the doubles performance but knows the difficulty of the competition.
"Obviously we had two match points and a lot of opportunities,” Thornqvist said. “Our philosophy is, even if you're better in doubles, it's difficult to win it all the time, so you have to be able to play and just let go. I thought we did that, that's not why we lost."
The Gators entered the singles competition needing four wins to clinch the match.
On court four, Dudeney gave UF the only point it would see in this SEC matchup. She made sure to quickly secure the win against Flach. After a perfect first set, Dudeney did not look back and finished off with a nearly perfect victory of 6-0, 6-1.
Florida was now tied with Auburn 1-1. Unfortunately, Dudeney would be the only player that came out on top in her singles matchup.
Despite the efforts from the Florida team, Auburn gave a dominating performance that the Gators could not respond to. They let the game slip right past and gave up their nine-game winning streak.
Coach Thornqvist believed Auburn was better at almost everything they did Sunday.
“I thought our body language was not great, to be honest,” Thornqvist said. “They looked braver and more willing to take the physical punishment of playing than we were.”
Thronqvist reflected on losing the team’s winning streak after the loss
“We have won a lot of matches in a row, which has built up a lot of confidence, but at the same time when it gets to these matches against the elite teams,” Thornqvist said. “The margins are so small that we have to do the little things right. I thought we failed on many, many courts today."
Florida will be back in action at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex Saturday afternoon against No. 34 South Carolina in the final matchup of the season.
The Gators hope to enter the SEC tournament with one last win to their name.
Contact Vanessa Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @_vanessa_sanch.