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Rachel Gailis and Carly Briggs upset in first-round of singles championship

Both fell to lower-ranked opponents in the Round of 64

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.

Heading into the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship, both Florida sophomore Rachel Gailis and graduate student Carly Briggs were looking to make a statement after the Gators' early exit from the team championship on May 5.

However, both Gailis and Briggs ultimately fell short in their Round of 64 matchups, officially ending Florida women’s tennis season.

“Not a great day for us,” Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist said to team media after the match. “It seemed we got off to a slow start and we were unable to set our sonar straight all day.”

Gailis, who came into the tournament as the No. 8 player in the nation according to the ITA, faced a difficult matchup against 34th-ranked Oklahoma sophomore Julia Garcia Ruiz.

Garcia Ruiz holds a 27-7 record in singles play this season and carried her momentum into Monday storming to an early 4-0 lead in the first set.

Though, Gailis fought back, bringing the first set to 5-4 before a pair of double faults allowed Garcia Ruiz to take the set 6-4.

The Florida sophomore had six total double faults in the bout.

In the second set, Gailis was unable to find a rhythm as Garcia Ruiz kept her foot on the gas, ultimately winning the set 6-1 to win the match.

Despite the upset loss, Gailis established herself among the nation’s top players this season, holding a singles record of 24-9 on the year.

Gailis won seven ranked matchups this year, the highest coming against South Carolina graduate student Ayana Akli, who was No. 7 at the time of their bout.

Meanwhile, No. 56 Briggs matched up against Old Dominion junior No. 116 Sofia Johnson in a competitive match that ultimately went the way of Johnson.

The loss snapped Briggs’ nine-match winning streak in singles play.

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The first set was a back-and-forth affair, but Johnson delivered strong serves in the later portion of the set to win 6-4.

The second set was all Briggs. She broke serve on the second game before cruising to a 6-1 set victory.

However, Briggs hard far from her best performance in the third set. Losing 6-0 with the match ending on a double fault by the Florida graduate student.

Briggs’ finished her season with a 20-16 record in doubles play following the loss and also spells the end of her collegiate career.

Florida’s team captain leaves the Gators as a two-time all-SEC selection, as well as a member of the 2024 SEC all-tournament team.

“We will miss Carly’s commitment and competitiveness,” Thornqvist said. “It will be fun to see who will take over that warrior role come fall.”

The remainder of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship will continue through May 25 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Contact Max Bernstein at Follow him on X @maxbernstein23.

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