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Friday, June 14, 2024

Gators women’s tennis secures second-straight conference victory against No. 13 Auburn

The Gators defeated the Tigers 4-1

During the Gators women's tennis match against Baylor University on Saturday, January 20, 2024.
During the Gators women's tennis match against Baylor University on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

Florida sophomore Rachel Gailis faced arguably her toughest opponent of the season Friday when she matched up against Auburn’s No. 14 fifth-year Carolyn Ansari.

But just like Florida’s No. 45-ranked sophomore had done in her past two matches, she earned yet another massive win.

Gailis came out the gate strong with a 6-2, first set victory and closed out Ansari 6-3 in the second set to win the Gators’ second point of the evening.

It was Gailis’ third-straight victory against a top-30 singles opponent, and she improved to an impressive 4-1 in SEC singles play this season.

Gallis helped lead the No. 16 Gators women’s tennis team (7-7, 3-2 SEC) to a win over No. 13 Auburn (10-6, 4-1 SEC) 4-1 to pick up their second-straight win.

They also tied up the season series against the Tigers, who had defeated Florida 4-0 on Feb. 11 at the ITA Indoor National Championships.

Doubles had been a problem for the Gators in SEC play, as they had dropped three of the four doubles points in their matchups.

Therefore, Gators head coach Roland Thornqvist felt the need to make changes, switching up the pairings on all three courts.

The adjustments worked like a charm, reinvigorating the Gators on the doubles front and earning them the crucial doubles point.

There was some instant chemistry on Court 3, as Florida’s duo of junior Bente Spee and Gailis were near flawless. The pairing stormed to a 6-0 victory over Auburn’s duo of senior Adeline Flach and graduate student Ali DeSpain.

The Gators then secured the crucial doubles point on Court 2, when the pair of graduate student Carly Briggs and freshman Qavia Lopez prevailed in their matchup against Auburn’s graduate student Selin Ovunc and Ansari 6-3.

The momentum never stopped there for Florida, who continued its strong performance in singles play.

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The aforementioned Court 1 matchup between No. 45 Gailis and No. 14 Ansari went in favor of the Gators, which gave them a 2-0 lead in the overall matchup.

On Court 6, Florida freshman Malwina Rowinska came out the gate strong against DeSpain, scoring a 6-3, first set victory. She then pulled ahead in the second set and never looked back, winning yet another set 6-3 while earning the Gators their third point of the day.

UF needed only one more point for the victory, but they’d have to work for it as the remaining four matches went to third-set tiebreakers.

However, they didn’t wait long, as Lopez scored a win on Court 5 against Flach to clinch the Gator win.

The first set ended 6-3 in favor of Flach, but Lopez found her rhythm to win the second set 6-3.

In the third set tiebreaker, Lopez’s relentless pace was too much for Flach, who had no answers for the Florida freshman. Lopez ultimately prevailed in the set 6-3 to score the Gators the win.

The Tigers' lone point came on Court 3, where Auburn’s No. 64 sophomore Bennett got the better of No. 79 Briggs. Bennett took the first set 6-4, before Briggs cruised in the second 6-1.

However, the third set tiebreaker was all Bennett, as she prevailed 6-1 to put the Tigers on the board.

Three matches in the overall contest never had a chance to finish.

The doubles matchup on Court 1 between Florida’s pair of junior Alicia Dudeney and Rowinska against Auburn’s No. 19-ranked pair of senior Ariana Arseneault and Bennett did not conclude, with the Tigers’ pair leading 5-2 at the time of finish.

Meanwhile, in singles, Florida’s No. 80 senior Sara Dahlstrom was in the midst of a tight battle on Court 2 against Auburn’s No. 70 Arseneault when the match was suspended.

Both women came into the match undefeated in SEC singles play, and that remained the case. Dahlstrom won the first set 6-2, while Arseneault cruised 6-1 in the second. The third set was 4-4 at the time of finish.

Meanwhile, on Court 6, Dudeney and Ovunc were also midway through their third set tiebreaker when the match concluded. Similar to the match on Court 2, UF took the first set, while Auburn grabbed the second. The tiebreak was 2-0 in favor of Dudeney when the match concluded.

The Gators will look to keep their momentum on Sunday at noon when they host the No. 17 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-2, 4-1 SEC) at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

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

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