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Friday, December 02, 2022
<p>Florida&#x27;s McCartney Kessler competes during a Feb. 26, 2021 match against LSU. Kessler helped secure a doubles win with freshman Alicia Dudeney, 6-2.</p>

Florida's McCartney Kessler competes during a Feb. 26, 2021 match against LSU. Kessler helped secure a doubles win with freshman Alicia Dudeney, 6-2.

Florida women’s tennis skillfully eliminated South Alabama Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 4-0.

The Gators (20-6, 10-3 SEC) came into this postseason contest as the No. 16-seed and closed the door on the Jaguars (22-5, 10-1 SBC) despite a slow start on doubles.

Head coach Roland Thornqvist said after the game that the delay between Florida’s match and Florida State versus Florida International, the matchup that was played directly before UF, may have contributed to the lackadaisical start.

“We were spending too much time in my office looking at the drama unfolding in the Florida State FIU match,” he said. “You just can’t get into the habit of having to play better that much to win a doubles point.”

Florida captured the doubles point off a spectacular comeback from juniors Carly Briggs and Emma Shelton. After falling 3-0 against Jaguar sophomore Otoha Aoki and senior Milka Pasanen, the Gator duo stormed back for an unprecedented 6-4 victory. 

“They settled down and started really helping one another and helping the rest of us with their energy and that led to them playing better,” Thornqvist said. 

Gators freshman Alicia Dudeney and graduate student McCartney Kessler dominated their doubles match against junior Luminita Tutunaru and graduate student Nikola Kohoutova for the 6-2 win.

With the doubles point safely in their possession, the orange and blue shined in singles play, especially Kessler and Dudeney.

Kessler shutdown graduate student Yu Fujioka for the 6-0, 6-1,victory. Dudeney excelled in similar fashion as her doubles partner with a statement making win over South Alabama junior Luminita Tutunaru, 6-0, 6-0.

Sophomore Sara Dahlstrom was nearly perfect for the Gators as she defeated Pasanen, 6-1, 6-0.

Securing this victory allows Florida to advance to a second-round matchup against FSUSunday at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

First serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. and all the action can be watched live on the TennisOne app.

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Contact Brenda Bogle at Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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Brenda Bogle

Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.

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