Roland Thornqvist

Coach Roland Thornqvist believes his squad has figured out its identity. “We can win even when we aren’t playing at the top of our game, and that was certainly not the case about a month ago," he said. 

Last month, the Gators women’s tennis team walked out of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships with a 3-4 record. When it entered its next match against Saint Mary’s on Feb. 23, the defending national champions were unranked.

Since then, however, Florida has won six matches in a row, with the last three contests being shutouts. In doubles competition, which was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses earlier this season, UF has won its last four doubles points.

So, what changed?

“At the beginning, I think we were a little out of sync,” freshman McCartney Kessler said after the team’s match on Sunday. “I think we’ve gotten in the swing of playing together in our matches.”

Kessler, who clinched the Gators’ victory over Texas A&M on Sunday, is one of three freshmen on Florida’s roster of six competing the players. The rest are seniors, and at the beginning of the year, it appeared that the vast unbalance and inexperience created by the two extremes would plague UF as the season continued.

Now, it looks as if the seniors and freshmen are beginning to find their compatibilities.

“I have a great chemistry with (Victoria Emma),” senior Anna Danilina said of her freshman doubles partner. “If I’m not finishing the point, I know she’s got me.”

According to coach Roland Thornqvist, the lack of experience and chemistry between the team hurt when it wasn’t playing its best, but now that everything has come together, UF can win even when its play isn’t up to par.

“We’re finally starting to figure stuff out,” he said. “We can win even when we aren’t playing at the top of our game, and that was certainly not the case about a month ago.”

In their next match, the Gators (9-4, 4-0 SEC) face a Georgia team that shares quite a few similarities. Out of the Bulldogs’ nine players, six of them are underclassmen, leaving only three seniors to bring the experience to the squad. Like Florida, Georgia (8-2, 3-0 SEC) is also undefeated at home and on a win streak of its own, clinching its last three matches.

So far, it seems like UF found the chemistry it needed at just the right time, but with opponents like Vanderbilt and South Carolina in the team’s future during its SEC stretch, Florida will hope that its inexperienced roster won’t cause any more problems ahead.

Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].