Florida women’s tennis left the comfort of home-field advantage Friday as it headed to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a competitive contest against the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels.
But for head coach Roland Thornqvist it was a place he knew all too well.
Thornqvist played for the Tar Heels from 1990-93. During his playing career, he led his team to an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in 1992 before falling in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament. Now, he seeked to guide his team into another treacherous round of playoff tennis.
North Carolina proved to be too much for Florida to handle, as the Gators were eliminated from postseason contention following a 4-0 defeat. The Tar Heels previously sent another Southeastern Conference team packing, defeating South Carolina to advance to the Round of 16.
In doubles play, UF was unable to capture the opening point, as freshman Alicia Dudeney and graduate student McCartney Kessler fell to sophomore Fiona Crawley and junior Elizabeth Scotty 1-6. North Carolina senior Alle Sanford and freshman Carson Tanguilig defeated Florida freshman Bente Spee and veteran senior Marlee Zein by a score of 6-1.
The Gators looked to string together four strong singles performances to mount a major comeback against the higher-seeded Tar Heels.
Hopes of an upset quickly dwindled when junior Emma Shelton lost her singles contest to junior Anika Yarlagadda, 0-6, 2-6. Senior Marlee Zein lost her singles match shortly after to Scotty, 1-6, 3-6. After the Tar Heels lead ballooned to 3-0, it was clear UF’s season was coming to a close.
Crawley secured and punched North Carolina’s ticket to the Elite Eight with a hard-fought win over junior Carly Briggs, 6-4, 7-5.
While Florida’s hopes for a team national championship are shelved until next season, there are three Gators that can still bring in some hardware during the NCAA Single and Doubles Championships starting May 19.
Kessler is set to compete in singles competition, while Briggs and Zein will partner up for doubles play. For those three athletes, the journey continues.
Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.