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Monday, February 06, 2023

Gators women’s tennis wins first dual match of Spring season in dominant fashion

Florida stomps South Florida to improve to 56-1 against Bulls

<p>Florida sophomores Bente Spee (left) and Alicia Dudeney (right) at the ITA All-American Championships. Photo courtesy of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.</p>

Florida sophomores Bente Spee (left) and Alicia Dudeney (right) at the ITA All-American Championships. Photo courtesy of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

The No. 18 Florida Gators women’s tennis team extended their winning streak against the Bulls to 38 consecutive matches. 

The Gators played their first dual match of the 2023 season in Tampa, FL, against the South Florida Bulls. They entered the matchup as heavy favorites, riding a 37-match win streak against USF. Their most recent loss to the Bulls occurred in April 1986. 

Assistant coach Jeremy Bayon — who was hired Friday — made his first appearance with the Gators in lieu of Lauren Embree’s departure. Embree coached her final match last weekend after she announced Jan. 6th that she would leave college tennis for personal reasons. 

Florida opened the day with a sweep of the doubles matches to give it a 1-0 lead. 

Florida senior Carly Briggs and sophomore Alicia Dudeney faced off against USF junior Grace Schumacher and senior Margriet Timmermans. The match went back and forth until the score sat at 3-3. Briggs and Dudeney won the next three games to seal their victory.  

Florida senior Emma Shelton and freshman Sophie Williams’ match went swimmingly. The freshman-senior duo looked flawless, achieving a 4-1 lead after five games. The pair won two of the next three games to strengthen the Gators’ doubles lead to 2-0. 

Florida freshman Rachel Gailis and sophomore Bente Spee mimicked the Briggs-Dudeney pair and won their match 6-3. 

They held a 2-1 lead over Bulls senior Laura Pellicer and freshman Cliona Walsh after three games. Then won four of the next six games to win their match and give Florida a 1-0 lead. 

Three of the six Gators took commanding leads as the singles round came underway; all but two won their first sets. Sophomore Sierra Berry was the only Bull to defeat a Gator Sunday. Berry upset No. 63 ranked freshman Anastasia Sysoeva in two sets, 6-3, 6-2. 

The most impressive win of the day came from Florida sophomore Emily De Oliveira. Poor play in her first set versus South Florida senior Marta Falceto Font resulted in a 2-6 loss. 

“She could not hit the ball in the ocean that first set,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said. 

De Oliveira stormed back to edge out her opponent 7-5 in the next set. She confidently secured a 10-4 victory in the 10-point tiebreaker set to win her match.

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Five of the six Gators competing in singles won their matchups; four won in two sets. Gailis also earned her first-career dual match win. 

The Gators extended their historic dominance versus the South Florida Bulls. Their all-time record moved to 56-1 against the state rival.  

The Women’s team’s next match will be against the Arizona Wildcats. They’ll face off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Tucson, Arizona. 

Contact Luke Adragna at ladragna@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @Iukeadragna

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Luke Adragna

Luke Adragna is a second-year sports & media major and a writer for women’s tennis at the Alligator. In his free time, he obsesses over his kitten named Pete, updates his Letterboxd and spends way too much money on Lego.


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