Florida junior Sara Dahlstrom had just won the first set and was down 4-2 midway through the second set.
The No. 119-ranked junior fought back to win three consecutive games and won the final point to defeat No. 14-ranked sophomore Sara Hamner. UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said the upset was the “biggest win of her career.”
“Her confidence grew with every game and every challenge met,” Thornqvist said.
The win helped give Florida a 3-1 lead, and the team achieved victory minutes later.
The No. 21 Florida Gators (7-3, 2-1 SEC) defeated the No. 32 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6, 1-2 SEC) 4-1 Saturday afternoon. Florida earned its second consecutive ranked win and improved its all-time record against the Gamecocks to 47-5.
The first doubles conclusion came on Court 2. Florida freshman Rachel Gailis and senior Carly Briggs paired to defeat freshman Alice Otis and sophomore Gracie Mulville.
The Gators duo — ranked No. 60 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association — made quick work of the Gamecocks. They led 3-2 early and refused to let up. They won the matchup 6-3.
Florida sophomore Emily De Oliveira and freshman Sophie Williams also cruised through doubles competition. The pair stormed out the gates with a 3-2 lead and finished flawlessly against senior Ana Cruz and freshman McKenna Schaefbauer. The pair won 6-2 to secure the doubles point for the Gators.
Florida sophomores Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee teamed up to battle against South Carolina senior Ayana Akli and Hamner.
Akli and Hamner — the No. 53-ranked doubles pair — dominated the sophomores. They took a 3-0 lead and failed to lose a single game to enter the final frame. The Florida pair stayed afloat to force three more games, but the match went unfinished due to the victory by De Oliveira and Williams on Court 3.
Briggs was the first Gator to reach a conclusion in singles.
The No. 47-ranked Briggs was trounced by No. 7 Akli. The senior dropped the first set 6-2; She fared no match in the second and lost 6-1.
Briggs had a career performance last Sunday in her defeat of then-No. 11 Louisiana State junior Kylie Collins. The victory was Akli’s 11th straight and tied the match 1-1.
De Oliveira earned the Gators’ first singles victory Saturday. The Bradenton, Florida, native went down 3-0 early in the first set against Cruz. The sophomore reversed trends and won six consecutive games to take the first set, 6-3. She worked off her momentum and defeated Cruz 6-1 in the second.
Dudeney and Dahlstrom produced victories shortly after De Oliveira’s win.
Dahlstrom won her matchup versus Hamner 6-2, 6-4. Dudeney quarreled with Mulville in two sets. Dudeney took the first set 6-2 and, in a tiebreaker game, won the final set 7-5. The win captured a swift 4-1 victory for the Gators.
Two Gators went unfinished.
Gailis battled Gamecocks senior Elise Mills. She defeated her opponent 6-2 in the first set but dropped the second, 6-2. She led 2-0 in the final set before Dudeney’s win.
Spee performed poorly against Gamecocks sophomore Misa Malkin and lost 1-6 the first set. She trailed 5-4 in the second set that went unconcluded.
The Gators will return to Gainesville for their next matchup. They’ll face the Vanderbilt Commodores at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex at 5 p.m. Friday.
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.