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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gators women’s tennis gets back on track with win in SEC opener against LSU

The No. 19 Gators picked up their first win since Feb. 3rd

Junior Bente Spee readies herself for a point in a doubles match in the Gators' 6-1 win against Baylor, Saturday, January 20, 2024.
Junior Bente Spee readies herself for a point in a doubles match in the Gators' 6-1 win against Baylor, Saturday, January 20, 2024.

The No. 19 Florida Gators women’s tennis team (5-5, 1-0 SEC) were in desperate need of a win heading into its SEC opener, Friday night against the Louisiana State Tigers (7-3, 0-1 SEC).

And a win is exactly what Florida got. UF picked up a 4-0 victory, which was its first win in almost a month.

The Gators’ win was notable for how they lined up, as Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist made adjustments in both his singles and doubles lineups.

In doubles, the freshman pair of Qavia Lopez and Malwina Rowinska were placed on Court 1, while the team of juniors Alicia Dudeney and Bente Spee moved down to Court 2.

The changes worked, as Rowinska and Lopez defeated LSU’s pair of freshman Kenna Erickson and junior Anita Sahdiieva 7-5 to win Florida the crucial doubles point.

However, Dudeney and Spee fell short on Court 2, as they fell to LSU’s pair of graduate student Aran Teixido and junior Florentine Dekkers 6-2.

On Court 3, Florida’s tandem of graduate student Carly Briggs and Rachel Gailis bested LSU’s team of graduate student Maya Tahan and redshirt junior Gaby Rivera 6-3.

No. 40 Gailis, who has been the Gators’ most consistent performer with a 5-2 singles record, moved up to Court 1. 

Meanwhile, her doubles partner, No. 57 Briggs, was moved down to Court 2 after she started her season with a 2-7 singles record.

The new lineup worked in Florida’s favor.

Briggs cruised to a dominant 6-4, 6-1 victory over LSU’s Dekkers, earning the Gators their second point of the match.

In the meantime, Briggs fell behind early on Court 2 to LSU’s Teixido, but she managed to storm back to force a third set. The graduate student was one game away from picking up the ultimate set, but the match finished before she had a chance to do so. Overall, Briggs led 1-6, 6-3 and 5-2.

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The Gators’ next points came from two of their most impressive singles players this season: Lopez and Dudeney.

On Court 5, Lopez faced off against LSU’s Tahan. Lopez grabbed a close first set, and continued her momentum to score a win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.

With Florida short one point from clinching the ultimate match victory, the Gators were one game away from winning on all four of the remaining courts.

However, it was Dudeney who got the decider, scoring a win over LSU’s Rivera 3-6, 6-1 and 6-2. It was Dudeney’s fifth singles victory of the season.

At the time of Dudeney’s finish, the Gators were ahead on all courts. On Court 3, Florida senior Sara Dahlstrom was nearing a upset against LSU’s Sahdiieva, as she led 6-4, 6-5.

Meanwhile, on Court 6, Florida’s Rowinska was on the brink of defeating LSU’s Erickson in a three-set thriller, where the Gator freshman led 6-7, 6-4 and 5-0. She was one point away from a finish when UF stole the win.

With a bounce-back performance, the Gators now have an even record and a 1-0 start to conference play. Florida will now look to continue its newfound momentum on the road against the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies (9-5, 1-0 SEC) on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Contact Max Bernstein at Follow him on X @maxbernstein23.

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