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Saturday, May 25, 2024

No. 19 Gators pull off upset against No. 3 Wolverines

Gators won first matchup against top-three opponent since 2017

Florida freshman Rachel Gailis and senior Carly Briggs compete in their doubles match in the Gators' win against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
Florida freshman Rachel Gailis and senior Carly Briggs compete in their doubles match in the Gators' win against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

Sophomore Emily De Oliveira was the star Wednesday afternoon. 

The Gator won her singles and doubles matchups and earned her second singles victory over a ranked opponent in her career. 

Her singles win secured the final point needed for the Gators and pushed Florida to victory. 

The No. 19 Florida Gators (9-4) orchestrated a 4-1 win against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (11-3) Wednesday afternoon at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. The Gators capitalized off an early doubles point victory and continued their thrilling play throughout the singles round. 

Florida senior Carly Briggs and freshman Rachel Gailis quickly trailed the No. 76-ranked pair of sophomore Julia Fliegner and freshman Lily Jones. 

The Wolverines led 2-1 and refused to let up any momentum. They defeated Florida’s pair, 6-3, but needed strong play from their teammates, who were down considerably on the other courts.

UF sophomores Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee competed against the No. 2 duo in the nation, Michigan juniors Kari Miller and Jaedan Brown. Florida grabbed an early one-game lead and exchanged points until midway through the match. 

Dudeney and Spee increased their lead by three and connected one final blow to secure the match, 6-2. 

The win set up De Oliveira and freshman Sophie Williams to capture the final match needed for the Gators. 

The freshman-sophomore duo competed against Wolverines senior Andrea Cerdan and junior Merri Kelly. The match went swimmingly for the Gator pair. The duos were tied 2-2, but Florida’s tandem separated themselves from their competitors with flawless consistency. Williams and De Oliveira won four consecutive games and defeated the Wolverines 6-2. 

The Gators forced Michigan to play catch up as the teams entered singles play.

No. 42-ranked junior Sara Dahlstrom added to the Gators’ lead with a swift victory. The junior defeated Miller 6-2 in both sets to continue her dominant singles campaign. She improved her dual-meet singles record to 8-3 with the victory. 

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Dudeney won her fifth consecutive singles match in straight sets versus Fliegner. The United Kingdom native won the first set, 6-1, and led 5-1 in the second set. The sophomore had countless opportunities to land the final punch but allowed Fliegner to even the score at six late in the second set. 

Dudeney tightened up her play and secured the final game for the 7-6 second-set win. 

The Wolverines put a point on the board with a victory from Cerdan on Court 6. Cerdan dominated Spee in the first set with a 6-2 win. Spee trailed 5-3 late in the second set and seemed to be moments away from a loss. 

The Heemstede, Netherlands, native fought hard and evened the score at five apiece but dropped the final set, 7-5, despite her last second efforts. 

De Oliveira won the final match for the Gators and secured the win for Florida. 

The sophomore led early against Michigan junior Gala Mesochoritou. She took the first set 6-3 but struggled midway through the second set. She needed one more game to win and allowed the Wolverine to even the score at six, which forced a tiebreaker set. De Oliveira avoided a third set and defeated Mesochoritou 7-6 (4). 

The victory secured the win for Florida, and the other courts went unfinished. 

No. 47-ranked Briggs competed in another matchup versus Brown. The competitors went back and forth, and Brown took the first set 7-6(0). Briggs outplayed her opponent and led 5-2 before the match went unfinished. 

Gailis won her first set against Michigan freshman Lily Jones and was moments away from potentially securing the win in a 6-6 tie-breaking set. The win by De Oliveira forced Gailis’ match to go unfinished. 

The Gators will leave home and travel to Starkville, Mississippi, for their next matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 5 p.m. Friday. 

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


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Luke Adragna

Luke Adragna is a third-year journalism student and the Florida Gators football reporter at The Alligator. He is a cat ethusiast and completes the NYT Daily Mini in less than a minute each day.


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