Florida led 3-2 and needed one more singles win to cap off its regular season finale with a victory.
No. 37-ranked junior Gator Sara Dahlstrom stepped up to the plate tied at one set apiece with No. 46 Tigers junior Ariana Arsenault and looked to seal the win for Florida.
Dahlstrom took the first game, but the fight wasn’t over.
The competitors exchanged game for game and approached a thirteenth game tied at six apiece. The UF junior convincingly stole the final game and won 7-6 (2) to secure the win for the Gators.
The No. 17 Florida Gators (14-6, 8-4 SEC) finished their final match of the regular season and defeated the No. 15 Auburn Tigers (18-6, 8-4 SEC) 5-2 Sunday afternoon at Yarbrough Tennis Center. The Gators trounced the Tigers in doubles play and solidified their lead with an all-around impressive performance in singles play.
Florida sophomores Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee fired on all cylinders in doubles. The No. 49-ranked doubles pair faced the No. 24 Tigers Arsenault and senior Carolyn Ansari. The Gators took the first game and refused to let up.
They swept the Tigers pair 6-0 and made way for Florida senior Carly Briggs and freshman Rachel Gailis to secure the doubles point for the Gators.
The No. 74-ranked duo of Briggs and Gailis finished the job when they defeated junior Adeline Flach and freshman Angella Okutoyi. The Gator tandem made quick work of the Tigers and composed a 6-1 victory for the doubles point.
Florida senior Emma Shelton and sophomore Sophie Williams trailed in their doubles match against Tigers freshmen DJ Bennett and Kaitlyn Carnicella. The duos went back and forth, and the Tigers led 3-2 before the match went unfinished.
The Auburn Tigers stayed neck and neck with the Gators despite their early deficit.
No. 96-ranked Dudeney faced Bennett and fell in two sets. Bennett’s late efforts earned a 7-5 first-set victory, and the freshman doubled down her second set and won 6-2.
De Oliveira recovered from her recent slump and won in straight sets versus Okutoyi. The Florida sophomore recorded losses throughout the last four weeks of play and performed a complete 180 degrees. She won 6-2 in her first set and narrowly avoided a third set with a 7-6 second-set victory to regain Florida’s lead.
The lead didn’t last for long, though.
Tigers No. 43 Ansari bested No. 38 Briggs in a dogfight. The UF senior comfortably won the first set 6-2 but fell apart in the second set and lost 6-3. Ansari capitalized off the second-set momentum and defeated Briggs 6-2 to even the dual-meet score at two apiece.
Gailis continued her string of impressive performances and endured a three-set battle versus Carnicella. The UF freshman won 6-2 in the first set and succumbed to Carnicella 6-3 in the second set. The freshman’s six-match win streak was on the line, and Gailis tightened up to secure victory with a 6-3 third-set performance.
The win by Gailis set up No. 37-ranked Dahlstrom to secure the dub for the Gators. She won in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2), to cap off Florida’s regular season and churn into the Southeastern Conference tournament with a two-match win streak.
Both teams agreed to finish play on Court 6, and Florida extended its lead with a three-set thriller between Spee and Flach.
The Florida sophomore won the first set 7-6 (8) in close fashion. Flach retaliated with an impressive second set and gave up only two games to win 6-2. Spee added some insult to injury and concluded the match with a 6-4 third-set victory.
Florida finished its final regular season match with a 5-2 win over the Tigers and will look ahead to the SEC tournament that starts Wednesday. The Gators currently have the fourth seed in the upcoming SEC tournament as Sunday’s win lifted the Gators above the Tigers in the rankings.
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.