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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

No. 17 Gators put on clinic against No. 61 Crimson Tide

Rachel Gailis continued her singles surge with sixth consecutive victory

Senior Carly Briggs returns a ball in the Gators' win against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
Senior Carly Briggs returns a ball in the Gators' win against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

The Gators landed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on a two-match losing streak and looked to get at least one victory in their final weekend of the regular season. 

The losses guaranteed Florida would fail to be a top-three seed in the upcoming Southeastern Conference tournament, but the team still had a chance to improve its record with its upcoming matchups.

UF sophomore Rachel Gailis made sure her team would close in on a strong regular season finish and picked up her sixth consecutive singles victory. The sophomore has surged as of late and won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, Sunday to help secure the victory for Florida.

The No. 17 Florida Gators (14-6, 8-4 SEC) defeated the No. 61 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-10, 5-7 SEC) 4-1 late Friday afternoon at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Gators got off to a hot start in doubles play and couldn’t be stopped en route to their convincing victory. 

Gailis and Florida senior Carly Briggs — the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 74-ranked doubles pair — teamed up and gave the Gators their first victory against Alabama sophomore Petra Sedlackova and junior Anna Parkhomenko. 

The Florida tandem looked shaky in the first couple of frames. Sedlackova and Parkhomenko seemed to have all control and gained a quick 2-0 lead. The hot start quickly cooled down, and the Gators caught up and won the matchup’s next five games. Briggs and Gailis closed the door with a 6-3 victory and passed the torch to their teammates to close it out. 

No. 49-ranked Florida sophomores Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee orchestrated a tight matchup against Bama No. 32 sophomores Anne Marie Hiser and Loudmilla Bencheikh. 

The Gator duo hit the ground running and earned a pivotal one game lead. The match went the distance, and Florida secured the doubles point with a 7-5 victory on Court 1. 

UF senior Emma Shelton and freshman Sophie Williams went unfinished in a tight match against Alabama sibling graduate students Kasia and Ola Pitak. The pairs exchanged games throughout the entire match, and the score evened at five apiece before Dudeney and Spee sealed the doubles point. 

The Crimson Tide began to drop like flies as Florida steered clear of any sort of comeback attempt.

No. 37-ranked Florida junior Sara Dahlstrom picked up a straight-sets victory against No. 114-ranked Bencheikh. The Stockholm, Sweden, native solidified her dominance and won both sets 6-1, 6-1. 

Gailis earned the second-needed victory against Parkhomenko. The UF sophomore led throughout the match and earned her victory in two sets, 6-3, 6-2. 

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Florida sophomore Emily De Oliveira was the only Gator to lose Friday and fell to Hiser. The sophomore couldn’t get things to go her way and lost 7-6 in the first set after a late surge. 

She was trounced in the second set and lost 6-1 and put the Crimson Tide on the board. 

No. 96-ranked Dudeney sealed the dub for the Gators and overcame Sedlackova. The UF sophomore earned the team’s most impressive set of the day and shut out Sedlackova 6-0. Dudeney avoided a third set and narrowly overcame her opponent for a 7-5 second-set win. 

The victory concluded the match and the Gators defeated the Crimson Tide 4-1. 

The matchups on Courts 2 and 6 both went unconcluded. 

Briggs led against Ola Pitak in her higher-seeded matchup. The UF senior put on a thrilling showcase and won the first set, 7-6, and led 3-1 before Dudeney secured victory. 

Spee ran out of time before she could deliver the final blow against Alabama freshman Klara Milicevic. The UF sophomore secured the win in a tight first set that finished at 7-5. She led 5-1 before the match went unconcluded. 

The Gators will finish out their regular season in Auburn, Alabama, and face the No. 15 Auburn Tigers. The match will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday at Yarbrough Tennis Center. 

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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