The Gators headed to Coral Gables, Florida, to compete in the Miami Fall Invite. The young core looked to build upon their successful singles play at the ITA All-American tournament.
Day one was highlighted by five singles wins against No. 27 ranked Northwestern.
Senior Carly Briggs got the action started against Northwestern sophomore Sydney Pratt. The experienced Briggs wasted no time shutting Pratt down and claimed set one, 6-1. Set two saw more of the same as Briggs easily swept her opponent 6-2.
Shortly after, freshman Rachael Gailis faced off against graduate student Christina Hand. The first set saw Gailis taking the momentum early, preventing Hand from making a run, and giving her the set 6-4. Looking to complete the sweep, Gailis started set two strong. However, Hand would not fall without a fight. The grueling back-and-forth affair was capped off by Gailis, whose talent was able to outlast Hand’s experience in a 7-5 set win.
Sophomores Bente Spee and Emily de Oliveira were also able to claim decisive victories in their singles matches against Wildcat counterparts.
Looking to earn a season-defining victory, Spee matched up against senior Briana Crowley. The young Gator dominated from the outset, taking set one 6-2. Crowly tried to regain the momentum, but Spee’s skill was ultimately too much to overcome, giving her set two 6-2.
Concurrently, De Oliveira battled fellow sophomore Kiley Rabjohns. Set one began like the rest for the Gators, with De Oliveira quickly winning 6-2. Rabjohns seemed unphased, stringing together an impressive campaign to take set two 7-5. Defying the expectations for a tight match, De Oliveira raced out to an early lead, claiming the match victory in the final set, 6-2.
Sophie Williams finished off Florida’s day-one competition against the Wildcats against junior Anio Alkio. The freshman wasted no time asserting her prowise, taking set one 6-1. Set two went much the same, with Williams earning the Gators fourth sweep of the day, 6-2.
Day two of the invite saw UF take on a Southeastern Conference opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats, with much of the same results.
Briggs opened up the matches for the Gators against Wildcat senior Florencia Urrutia. The seasoned Gator wasted no time setting the tone, taking set one 6-3. Mirroring the prior, set two saw Briggs establish control early and never relent, giving her the sweep 6-3.
Later on, Gailis faced off against sophomore Lidia Gonzalez. Not looking to allow her opponent to linger as she’d done in her previous match, Gailis swiftly swept Gonzalez (6-2, 6-1). Spee also contributed to the domination of the WIldcats, with her performance against senior Maialen Morante. Spee’s outstanding play allowed her to cruise to yet another match sweep (6-2, 6-0).
Capping off the singles play, De Oliveira took on freshman Zoe Hammond. Akin to thes rest of Florida’s play, De Oliveira controlled set one early, winning it 6-0. Impressively, Hammond refused to fall and evened the match score with a 6-2 set victory. While momentum seemed to be lost, De Oliveira remained calm and quickly dispatched Hammond in an uncontested 6-1 third set victory.
On the doubles side of play, the Gators picked up two commanding victories against Northwestern to round out day two.
Gailis and Spee took on the pair of Hand and sophomore Justine Leong. While the match was initially back and forth, the Gators remained unwavering and claimed a 6-4 win.
Shortly after, freshman Anastasia Sysoeva and junior Sara Dahlstrom faced off against junior Maria Shusharina and freshman Jennifer Riester. In a tight match, the Gators were able to overcome a sloppy performance and outlast the Wildcats 7-6.
The final day of the invite was canceled due to inclement weather.
With hopes that its singles play will continue to improve, Florida heads to Jacksonville for the UNF Invitational. The three day event is set to begin Friday.
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.