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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Florida women’s tennis falls to Texas A&M, ends SEC Championship hopes

The Gators suffered their first defeat since Mar. 8

Florida women's tennis pairing of Alicia Dudeney and Malwina Rowinska high-five each other after a point in the team's match against Mississippi State on Friday, March 29, 2024.
Florida women's tennis pairing of Alicia Dudeney and Malwina Rowinska high-five each other after a point in the team's match against Mississippi State on Friday, March 29, 2024.

Florida graduate student Carly Briggs has found her rhythm in her final collegiate campaign.

Briggs came into Saturday’s SEC Tournament Semifinal matchup against Texas A&M the winner of seven straight, but she faced stiff competition in the form of No. 19 sophomore Nicole Khirin.

Briggs found herself down 3-0 early in the first set but stormed back to win the first set 7-5. Khirin responded quickly, however, winning the second set 6-2.

In the ultimate set, Briggs hit her stride, cruising to a 6-1 set win to win her eighth-straight match.

However, Briggs was one of the Gators’ only bright spots in the semifinal, picking up the only singles victory in the No. 3-seed Gators (16-8, 11-2 SEC) 4-2 loss against No. 2-seed Texas A&M (22-6, 12-1 SEC).

The loss snapped Florida’s 11-match winning streak, and extended its SEC Championship drought to seven years, the longest in team history.

In doubles, the battle for the point was extremely competitive, but ultimately, the Gators prevailed to win their 11th straight doubles point in conference play.

The Gators fell behind early on Court 1, where Texas A&M’s No. 3 pair of junior Mary Stoiana and sophomore Mia Kupres bested Florida’s No. 50 team of junior Alicia Dudeney and freshman Malwina Rowinska 6-3.

The loss was Dudeney and Rowinska’s first as a pairing this season but came against their highest-ranked opponents.

Florida responded quickly on Court 2, where the team of freshman Qavia Lopez and Briggs defeated Texas A&M’s pair of senior Carson Branstine and Khirin 6-4.

The doubles point ultimately came down to Court 3, where Florida’s team of sophomore Rachel Gailis and junior Bente Spee faced off against Texas A&M’s duo of freshman Lucciana Perez and junior Jeanette Mireles.

In a back-and-forth bout, it was Gailis and Spee who were ultimately the victors, claiming the win 7-5 and grabbing the Gators the doubles point.

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The win was the seventh straight for Gailis and Spee as a team.

However, singles proved to be a different story. The Aggies took control early and never looked back, capturing the overall match win.

On Court 2, Stoiana, the No. 1 ranked singles player in the country, made quick work of Florida junior No. 71 Sara Dahlstrom, winning 6-2, 6-0.

The Aggies then grabbed the overall match lead on Court 5, where Perez bested No. 111 Lopez 6-0, 7-5.

Texas A&M then inched closer to the victory on Court 4, as No. 41 Kupres cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Dudeney.

With the Aggies only one win away from the overall match victory, the remaining three singles matches headed to a third set.

The UF comeback attempt was sparked by No. 68 Briggs, who captured a three-set victory over No. 19 Khirin on Court 3.

However, that would be the only Florida singles point of the day, as Texas A&M claimed the win on Court 1 when Branstine bested No. 8 Gailis 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

Florida will now await the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Tournament selection show on Apr. 29. 

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

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