The Florida women’s tennis team is a tale of two extremes. With three freshmen and four seniors on the roster, the squad is a perfect balance of veterans and rookies.
But when it came to primetime tennis on Saturday, it was the team’s inexperience that stood out.
In Florida State’s 4-1 victory over the Gators on Saturday night — its first win over UF since 2009 — the Seminoles controlled the dual match from start to finish. UF (2-1) only won one doubles match and one singles match the entire night, earning the victories behind the play of seniors Anna Danilina and Josie Kuhlman.
Coach Roland Thornqvist said that it’s difficult for freshman to get adjusted to the intensity of college tennis early in the season, and it showed on Saturday night. Of FSU’s three wins in singles play, two of them came against first-year players Katie Kubicz and Victoria Emma, who both played a junior and a sophomore, respectively. Freshman McCartney Kessler did not finish her match, but was down 4-2 in the last set.
While seniors like Danilina and Kuhlman showed poise, the freshmen appeared to have trouble for the first time this season. The in-state rivalry, stacked on top of the fact that the match was nationally televised, made it apparent that as play went on, the pressure quickly ate away at the squad’s new members.
The Gators’ next contest will be on Wednesday against No. 18 Oklahoma State, which features a roster that includes five upperclassmen. Paired with only seven total players on UF’s roster, OSU will likely be looking to capitalize on the team’s inexperience.
As the season continues, only time will tell how the Gators’ freshmen will adjust to their newfound environment, but Florida’s meet this Wednesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, will be as great an indicator as any.