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Monday, May 27, 2024

Gators women’s tennis fall short in comeback attempt against Georgia

Florida forced four third-set tiebreakers, but ultimately was defeated

Freshman Qavia Lopez slams a hit in the Gators women's tennis 6-1 win against Baylor.
Freshman Qavia Lopez slams a hit in the Gators women's tennis 6-1 win against Baylor.


As the sun began to set on the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex, the No. 18 Florida Gators (5-7, 1-2 SEC) had a tall task to overcome in a 3-0 match deficit. With four third-set tiebreakers taking place, the Gators had to win all four matches against the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs (8-3, 3-0 SEC) to win the overall match.

In their first home match in 40 days, the Gators put up a valiant effort, winning three of the four tiebreakers.

However, ultimately it was not enough to overcome the Bulldogs, who won 4-3. 

The win was Georgia’s eight straight against Florida, including its 4-1 win over the Gators at the ITA National Indoor Championships just less than a month ago.

The Gator points were earned in the third set on all of the top three courts.

On Court 1, Florida’s No. 45 sophomore Rachel Gailis matched up against Georgia’s No. 29 junior Dasha Vidmanova. Gailis took the first set, but Vidmanova was victorious in the second.

In the tiebreaker, Gailis was firing on all cylinders, eventually claiming the win 7-6, 4-6, 6-0.

Meanwhile, Florida’s newly ranked No. 80 senior Sara Dahlstrom came out victorious in her Court 2 debut over another highly ranked opponent, Georgia’s No. 25 sophomore Alexandra Vecic.

Vecic stole the first set, before Dahlstrom stormed back to take the second. In the third, Dahlstrom edged out the victory, winning the match 4-6, 6–4, 6-3.

On Court 3, Florida’s No. 79 graduate student Carly Briggs matched up against Georgia’s No. 68 junior Mell Reasco in what was a back-and-forth battle.

Reasco took the first set in a tiebreaker, but Briggs took the crucial second set. In the tiebreaker, Briggs found herself on top early and never surrendered the lead, finishing the match with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Georgia’s junior Guillermina Grant claimed the overall match victory in the fourth third-set tiebreaker, which took place on Court 6. Grant defeated Florida freshman Malwina Rowinska, who won the first set and had multiple opportunities to close out the match in the second set.

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However, Grant somehow pushed the match to a third set, where she outclassed Rowinska to defeat her 3-6, 7-6, 6-1.

The Bulldogs were aided in their victory by their win on the doubles front, where they took the point with wins on Courts 1 and 3.

On Court 1, Florida’s freshmen duo of Qavia Lopez and Rowinska dropped its second straight match to a top-10 tandem, this time falling on Court 1 to Georgia’s No. 8 pair of freshman Ayesgul Mert and Vidmanova 6-2.

The Bulldogs then secured the point on Court 3, where their team of Vecic and Reasco defeated Florida’s team of Briggs and Gailis 6-3.

The loss was Briggs and Gailis’ first in conference play this season, as they now hold a 4-4 overall record as a team this year.

Meanwhile, the match on Court 2 between Florida’s pair of juniors Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee and Georgia’s No. 34 duo of junior Mai Nirundorn and Grant ended with the UF’s pair up 5-3.

The other Bulldog points came on Courts 4 and 5 in singles play.

On Court 4, Florida’s Dudeney could get nothing going, as Georgia’s No. 98 sophomore Anastasiaa Lopata put on a clinic, winning the match in straight sets 6-1, 6-1.

Florida’s Lopez’s four match win streak was snapped on Court 5, where she fell to Georgia’s Murt 6-4, 6-4.

The loss dropped Lopez to 6-2 in singles this season, and was her first loss in conference play.

The Gators valiant comeback effort might not have earned them the victory, but it absolutely gave the squad some much needed momentum as they head into a matchup against the No. 16 Tennessee Volunteers on March 10 at 1 p.m. in the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

Contact Max Bernstein at mbernstein@alligator.org. Follow him on X @maxbernstein23.

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