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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Gators women’s tennis earns eight-game winning streak with road victory

Rachel Gailis took her first loss since March 3 in the fight

Gators women's tennis sophomore Rachel Gailis goes for a forehand shot in the women's tennis team's match against Baylor on Saturday, January 20, 2024.
Gators women's tennis sophomore Rachel Gailis goes for a forehand shot in the women's tennis team's match against Baylor on Saturday, January 20, 2024.

Florida senior Sara Dahlstrom returned to the Gators’ singles lineup Friday evening with a bang.

No. 64 ranked Dahlstrom had been out of action since her defeat on March 22, but she looked as if she had never left the court.

Dahlstrom found herself down early in her Court 2 bout against Vanderbilt freshman Valeria Ray, but she then edged out a duo of deuces to gain her lead.

From there, it was all Dahlstrom, as she cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Her win was the second point of the day for the No. 13 Gators (14-7, 9-2 SEC), as they defeated No. 27 Vanderbilt (11-6, 6-4 SEC) to claim their eighth-straight win.

In doubles, UF dominated to win its seventh-straight doubles point in conference play.

On Court 2, Florida’s pairing of graduate student Carly Briggs and freshman Qavia Lopez got back on track after a loss in the last game, defeating Vanderbilt’s No. 69 duo of senior Holly Staff and Ray 6-2.

The doubles point was then claimed on Court 3 by Florida’s team of sophomore Rachel Gailis and junior Bente Spee, who dispatched Vanderbilt’s pair of sophomore Sonya Macavei and junior Amy Stevens 6-1.

Singles, however, was far more competitive, and the doubles point ultimately was the deciding point.

The first singles point of the day went in Vanderbilt’s favor in a top-20 matchup between No. 13 Gailis and Vanderbillt’s No. 17 junior Celia-Belle Mohr.

Mohr took the competitive first set 6-4, and Gailis struggled to respond, as Mohr swept the second set 6-0 to claim the victory.

It was Gailis’ first loss since March 3, when she dropped her match against Texas A&M’s Mary Stoiana, the No. 1 player in the country.

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However, Florida had a quick response on Court 2, where Dahlstrom overwhelmed Vanderbilt’s Ray in straight sets.

The Gators edged even closer to the victory on Court 3, where No. 86 Briggs outlasted Vanderbilt senior Anessa Lee in an ultra-competitive two set bout.

The first set went to tiebreaker, where Briggs ultimately prevailed 7-5 to win the set 7-6. Briggs continued her momentum and came out the gate strong, as she went 3-0 and eventually won 6-3.

With Florida needing just one more point for the overall match victory, the remaining three matches on Courts 4, 5, and 6 went to the third set.

Ultimately, however, it was No. 119 Lopez who scored the winner for the Gators, as she bested Vanderbilt’s Stevens on Court 5.

Lopez was on her game in the first set, winning 6-2. The second set went to a tiebreaker, where Stevens prevailed 7-5 to win the set 7-6.

Then in the third, it evened up at 3-3, before Lopez edged out the final three games to earn the hard-fought victory 6-3.

With the Gators’ win clinched, the remaining two singles matches were played out, both of which went in the favor of the Commodores.

On Court 4, Vanderbilt’s Staff narrowly defeated Dudeney. The first set went to a tiebreaker, which Staff won. Dudeney swept the second set 6-0, before Staff bounced back to win the third set 6-2.

It was a similar story on Court 6, as Vanderbilt’s Macavei took a first set tiebreaker win over Rowinska, before Rowinska took the second set 6-2. The third set was back-and-forth, but Macavei prevailed 6-4.

Only one match did not have the chance to finish, which was the Court 1 doubles match that featured two top-30 teams.

Florida’s No. 30 pair of Dudeney and Rowinska were trailing Vanderbilt’s No. 25 duo of Mohr and Lee 4-3 at the time of finish.

The unfinished match means Dudeney and Rowinska remain undefeated as a pair this season, boasting an impressive 5-0 doubles record.

Florida will look to extend its streak to nine-straight wins on the road against Kentucky at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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




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