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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Gators women’s tennis outlasts Ole Miss in 4-3 victory

Florida defeated the Rebels 4-3 to earn its seventh straight win

Florida's Alicia Dudeney celebrates winning a singles point in the team's win over Ole Miss on Sunday, March 31, 2024.
Florida's Alicia Dudeney celebrates winning a singles point in the team's win over Ole Miss on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

In her third year as a Gator, junior Alicia Dudeney has become one of Florida’s most reliable performers.

Dudeney came into Sunday’s match the winner of her last four singles bouts, and she occupied Court 3, facing off against Mississippi junior Anaelle Leclercq-Ficher.

Dudeney struggled to start her match, dropping the first set to Leclercq-Ficher 7-5.

However, Dudeney fired back, breaking serve late to win the competitive second set 7-5.

With the overall match even at 3-3, it was all up to Dudeney if the Gators were going to win their seventh straight match.

And Dudeney delivered in a major way, sweeping the third set 6-0, earning the No. 14 Gators (12-7, 8-2 SEC) the narrow 4-3 victory over No. 30 Ole Miss (10-7, 4-5 SEC).

The battle for the doubles point came down to the wire, but ultimately, the Gators won their sixth straight doubles point.

Florida’s pair of junior Bente Spee and sophomore Rachel Gailis were dominant on Court 3, dispatching Ole Miss’ pair of seniors Kelsey Mize and Lucie Devier 6-1.

However, the Rebels fired back. On Court 2, their team of juniors Ludmila Kareisova and Leclercq-Ficher bested Florida’s pair of graduate student Carly Briggs and freshman Qavia Lopez 6-3.

It was Briggs and Lopez’s first loss as a pair, falling to a 4-1 overall record as a duo this season.

With the doubles point on the line, it all came down to the Court 1 matchup between Florida’s undefeated pair of freshman Malwina Rowinska and Dudeney and Ole Miss’ No. 64 team of redshirt junior Ava Hrastar and senior Briana Crowley.

The back-and-forth match made its way to a tiebreaker, but Rowinska and Dudeney prevailed, winning 7-6 with a 7-5 tiebreaker victory.

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The win not only earned Florida the doubles point but maintained the pair’s perfect record this season, improving to 5-0 as a team.

The early lead proved to be crucial for the Gators, who found themselves embroiled in an ultra-competitive singles matchup.

No. 15 Gailis earned Florida its second point of the day, defeating Ole Miss’ Kareisova 6-1, 6-0 in a dominant effort. The win improved Gailis to 8-1 in the month of March, which includes five ranked singles victories.

Then on Court 4, the Rebels responded. Ole Miss’ Crowley got the better of No. 109 Lopez, defeating her in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. The loss was Lopez’s first as a ranked singles competitor and first defeat since March 8.

Ole Miss then tied up the overall match on Court 6. Ole Miss junior Rachel Krzyzak bested Florida sophomore Sophie Williams 7-6, 6-0.

With the two sides even, the remaining three matches went to the third set.

No. 84 Briggs then put the Gators one win away from the victory, taking care of business against Ole Miss’ Hrastar.

The Florida graduate student took the first set 6-3, but Hrastar took the second set 6-4. 

In the deciding set, Briggs found her groove, winning the set 6-1 to score the Gators another point.

However, the Rebels answered back, as Ole Miss sophomore Emma Kette got the better of Rowinska in their Court 5 bout. Kette took the first set 6-2, but Rowinska picked up steam in the second set, winning 6-2.

In the third set, Kette pulled ahead and didn’t look back, winning the set 6-4 and evening up the match.

The match then had its thrilling conclusion on Court 3, with Dudeney’s three-set victory over Leclercq-Ficher.

Florida will look to make it eight straight wins on the road against Vanderbilt at 5 p.m. Friday.

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

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