The Gators failed to make a significant impact in their season’s opening tournament, as double faults plague Alicia Dudeney against the tournament’s best.
Florida opened the season Monday at the Lubbock 15k hosted by Texas Tech, with sophomores Bente Spee and Dudeney earning wins in their qualifying round matches.
Spee got the action started against Texas Tech’s own Metka Komac. Spee claimed the first set 6-2. Komac would prevent Spee from cruising to a dominant win, however, by narrowly taking set two, 7-6. Spee remained unwavered and claimed Florida’s first match victory of the season with a 11-9 win in the third set.
Concurrently, Dudeney began her season with a dominant performance over Lubbock Christian’s Michelle Troch. She quickly defeated Michelle in set one, 6-1. From there Dudeney’s experience shined as she completed the match sweep with another 6-1 victory.
Assistant coach Lauren Embree praised the sophomores’ performance.
“They were able to make good decisions and play the big points well, which is what made the difference,” Embree said.
With these two victories, the pair moved onto the final stage of the qualifying round and were pitted against each other in the final qualifying round Tuesday.
Dudeney looked to establish herself against her fellow sophomore early, leading to a 6-4 set one victory. Spee refused to be outshined by her teammate and prohibited the sweep with her own 6-4 win in set two. Indistinguishable from Spee’s Monday match, 10 points were not enough to close it out. Dudeney defeated her fellow Gator and claimed the match in set three, 12-10.
Florida freshman Anastasia Sysoeva also competed in her first main draw match as a member of the team Tuesday.
Sysoeva competed against fellow Russian Maria Kononova from the University of North Texas. Unlike Dudeney and Spee, her lack of tournament experience made it hard to build any momentum against the opponent. Kononova used this to her advantage, sweeping Sysoeva (6-3, 6-2).
As the lone Gator remaining, Dudeney moved onto day three of the main draw, where she took on Brandy Walker in the round of 32 Wednesday.
Dudeney dominated her match early yet again Wednesday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in set one. Walker responded by taking a 4-2 lead, but Dudeney shut down her opponent's rally and took set one 6-2.
Momentum carried into set two for Dudeney, who took an early 1-0 lead. While Walker was able to re-establish herself and take a 2-1 set lead, she was ultimately undone by her 13 total double faults. Dudeney completed the sweep with a set score of 6-4.
With the victory over Walker, Dudeney was slated to take on the tournament’s top-seed, Martyna Kubka, in the round of 16 Wednesday.
The trend of Dudeney’s strong start was lost as Kubka earned an early ace and took set one 6-3. Dudeney would attempt to rally by taking a 3-2 lead in set two. The tournament favorite responded, however, and capitalized on Dudeney’s four double faults, eventually completing the sweep 6-4.
Florida now looks ahead to the Bedford Cup, where senior Emma Shelton, freshman Sophie Williams and sophomore Emily de Oliveria will represent the Gators. The three-day event begins Sept. 23.
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.