Following a disappointing outing in the ITA All-American tournament the Gators women’s tennis team headed to Atlanta, Georgia, where it hoped to bounce back in the ITA Southeast Regionals.
Florida’s presence was established immediately, as it claimed three doubles victories throughout day one.
Freshman Rachel Gailis and sophomore Bente Spee began the Gators’ dominant day in the main draw of the doubles bracket against Florida Gulf Coast University seniors Emma Bardet and Ida Ferding. Even with their lack of experience, the young duo proved too much to handle for the FGCU seniors, taking the match 8-4.
Shortly after, Florida’s second freshman-sophomore duo of Sophie Williams and Emily De Oliveira took the court. They found themselves in a tight match against Georgia Southern juniors Silvia Martinez and Lindsay Tulenko. Ultimately, the Gators’ chemistry remained unmatched, giving them the match victory 8-7.
Rounding out the first day’s doubles action was the pairing of sophomore Alicia Dudeney and senior Carly Briggs. They took on Florida Atlantic freshman Carla Glamiche and sophomore Amber McGinnis. Florida’s experienced pair wasted no time, defeating the Owls 8-4.
On the singles side of the tournament, Briggs and De Oliveira earned a plethora of victories.
Briggs set the tone early against Stetson graduate student Anais Gabriel. Briggs rushed out early to take set one, 6-3. However, Gabriel responded by evening the match with a 6-4 win in set two. The UF senior remained unwavered and shutout Gabriel in set three 6-0, taking the match.
Immediately after, Briggs continued her impressive play against Florida International freshman Ekaterina Khairutdinova, who she quickly swept (6-2, 6-3).
Closing out day one, Briggs looked to move onto the round of 16, facing off against No. 79 ranked Georgia sophomore Dasha Vidmanova. Briggs capped off her brilliant day one performance with yet another sweep (6-3, 6-4).
De Oliveira got the action started on day two in the singles consolation bracket against Miami junior Maya Tahan. She cruised to a match sweep, with 6-4 and 6-1 set wins respectively.
Later, she took on South Florida freshman Colina Walsh. De Oliveira shutout Walsh in set one, 6-0, and continued her impressive play in set two, taking the match 6-2. With this victory she clinched a spot in the semifinals of the singles consolation bracket.
Day two of doubles play began with Florida’s pair of Briggs and Dudeney continuing their stellar performance in the round of 16. They faced Georgia Tech juniors Mahak Jain and Ruth Marsh. The Gators quickly took the lead and never looked back, winning the match 8-2.
Later in the day, the duo sought to secure their spot in the semifinals with a monumental victory over Miami freshman Mia Mack and junior Audrey Boch-Collins. Akin to their previous match, the Gators raced out to an early lead and never relinquished it, claiming victory 8-2.
Day two ended with Gailis and Spee pitted against Georgia Tech's top seeded pair of junior Carol Lee and sophomore Kate Sharabura. While the young Florida duo put on an impressive display, their valiant effort ultimately fell short, losing the match in the tiebreaker 8-7.
During the third day of the tournament, Briggs and Dudeney headlined the Gators’ success by earning a spot in the finals of the main doubles draw.
The red hot Briggs and Dudeney dynamic earned yet another win against another Georgia Tech duo: sophomore Kylie Bilchev and freshman Alejandra Cruz. The Gators dominated the Yellow Jackets in a straight-set victory (6-4, 7-5). With this, the pair was set to take on the top seeded Sharabura and Lee the following day.
On the other hand, De Oliveira completed her run in the singles consolation bracket with two commanding victories. The first came against South Florida senior Laura Pellicer in the semifinals. The Gator didn’t seem phased by the pressure of the moment, quickly sweeping Pellicer (6-4, 6-2).
Later in the finals, De Oliveira looked to take home the title victory against Cruz. De Oliveira initially struggled to find her footing, but eventually claimed set one 6-4. In set two Cruz took advantage of De Oliveira’s slow start, tying the match 6-4.
With the title on the line, set three did not disappoint. The back and forth affair saw each side unable to make the decisive play, until De Oliveira broke the stalemate. She won the match 10-8 for her second singles title this season.
Day four marked the end of Florida’s time in the tournament, as Briggs and Dudeney ultimately fell in the final round of the main doubles draw. With the whole Florida team rallying behind them, the Gators’ duo opened up set one with a quick lead. However, they would falter and drop the set, 6-4. The Gators were unable to claw back, dropping the second and final set as well, 6-2.
Florida will now try to carry its momentum to San Diego, California, for the ITA National Fall Championship. The four-day event begins Wednesday, Nov. 2.
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.