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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Shelton and De Oliveira earn title victories in their season debuts

The Gators found an early stride behind stellar performances in the Bedford Cup

<p>Florida senior Emma Shelton practices at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Florida.</p>

Florida senior Emma Shelton practices at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida took the second tournament of the season by storm at the Bedford Cup, hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University.

Senior Emma Shelton began a string of UF victories in the round of 32 and a green draw against Florida Atlantic sophomore Amber McGinnis. Shelton found early success against her inexperienced opponent, taking set one 6-1. McGinnis refused to fall without struggle. Shelton, however, overpowered the underclassmen, completing the sweep with a tiebreaker, 7-6.

Shelton rode her momentum into the round of 16 against South Florida freshman Cliona Walsh. The Gainesville native brushed aside her opponent in a match sweep (6-2, 6-3). With the victory, Shelton was set to take on North Florida sophomore Anabella Davis in the quarterfinal round on day two of the tournament.

Senior Carly Briggs also made her season debut in the green draw, where she matched up against Stetson graduate student Anais Gabriel. Briggs followed in her fellow senior’s footsteps, earning a quick sweep over her opponent (6-3, 6-2).

In the blue draw sophomore Emily De Oliveira began her season in the round of 16, against USF freshman Sabrina Ibarra. Highlighting the Gators’ day one dominance, Ibarra commanded a sweep of her competition (6-2, 6-0), propelling her into the quarterfinals.

De Oliveira didn’t skip a beat in her match against FGCU sophomore Lola Glantz. De Oliveira’s performance earned the Gators yet another day one sweep (6-3. 6-3). She was then slated to play USF sophomore Kiana Mokhtari in the semifinals on day two.

Head coach Roland Thornqvist praised De Oliveria’s performance.

“I was really pleased with Emily’s performances today,” he said.” She was perhaps the cleanest of the group, which is very encouraging since she’s been one of our top performers in practice the last two weeks.”

Finishing off the day one action, freshman Sophie Williams gave an exciting look into the future of the program. She played her first collegiate match against USF sophomore Sierra Berry in the consolation green draw. 

The freshman’s inexperience was evident early, though, as she dropped the first set to Berry, 7-5. However, with resilience, Williams would claim set two (7-5) and dominate set three (10-3), earning her first victory as a Gator.

Florida began day two of the tournament with much of the same results, as De Oliveira faced Mokhtari. The sophomore would continue to impress as she ran away with set one, 6-3. Mokhtari would recover and prevent the sweep with a 6-3 set victory of her own. De Oliveira refused to fall however, as she outlasted Mokhtari in a heated third set, taking it 10-7.

With this victory, De Oliveira looked ahead to the blue draw’s final on day three, against Stetson junior Magdalena Hedzrak.

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Shelton also built off her dominant day one performance against Davis. Shelton continued her pattern of an early start, taking set one 6-3. Davis reamined unwavered and fought to claim set two by the same score. 

An all out battle would ensue in set three; ten points would not be enough to claim victory. Shelton finally ended the match with a score of 16-14. 

Singles play of day two was ended by Williams, who moved onto the semifinals of the green consolation bracket. Her scheduled opponent, UNF sophomore Isabel Oliveira, withdrew due to illness.

Florida also opened its doubles season in the consolation bracket, where De Oliveira and Briggs defeated FGCU’s Jordana Ossa and Lola Glantz 6-4. 

Title victories by Shelton and De Oliveira in their respective brackets polished off an amazing weekend for the Gators during day three of the event.

The senior got the action started in her semifinal round against FGCU senior Emma Bardet, where she prevailed in a back and forth first set, taking it 7-4. Set two was much the same, as Shelton continued to battle with her senior counterpart. She was able to capitalize on Bardet’s mistakes and completed the sweep, 7-5.

Following her win over Bardet, Shelton wasted no time in beginning her finals match against FGCU senior Jordan Ossa. This match contrasted the former because it was all Shelton from the jump. She quickly took set one, 6-0, and did much of the same in set two taking it 6-4. 

In the blue bracket, De Oliveira took on Hedzrak for the title. With little to no effort, De Oliveira decimated her opponent, sweeping her for the victory (6-1, 6-1).

The Gators will now turn their attention to Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships. The nine-day event begins Oct. 1.

Contact Zachary Curtin at Follow him on Twitter @zachary_curtin.

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Zachary Curtin

Zach is a freshman sports journalism major and a sports reporter for the Alligator. When he is not covering UF sports he is often being disappointed by Philadelphia sports teams.

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