McCartney Kessler sat tied at 5-5 in the third set with the opportunity to take control of South Carolina’s Paige Cline. Ida Jarlskog led in a tiebreaker early over Ingrid Martins which could have altered the momentum of the match.
McCartney Kessler readied her stance and dribbled the tennis ball four times near her left f…
Both sophomores had opportunities to put their respective matches away against the Gamecocks late but failed, finishing Florida’s regular season dual-match play with a loss.
Florida hosted No. 5 South Carolina at the Ring Tennis Complex Saturday morning in a tightly contested SEC matchup. The Gators couldn’t hold on Courts 1, 2 and 3 in a competitive singles play, leading to a 4-2 loss.
“We are terribly disappointed in the result today, but this (is) the bar,” coach Roland Thornqvist said after the loss. “A team that is ranked No. 5, that's who we try to beat, and we were a point here or a point there from making that happen."
Florida had a tough test entering doubles play, especially on Court 1. The No. 2-ranked pair, of Mia Horvit and Martins were a proven force. No. 51-ranked Victoria Emma and McCartney Kessler kept it close, but they failed to pull away.
Horvit and Martins took down the sophomore duo 6-3, while Florida had the potential to turn things in its favor but failed. Emma had a diving return shot which would’ve tied the set at 3-3, but her racket slid out beneath her and under the net, resulting in a point for the Gamecocks and a 4-2 lead.
Shortly after that win, Florida’s transfer tandem of Ida Jarlskog and Tsveta Dimitrova fell to Rachel Rohrabacher and Cline 6-2.
The outside courts in singles play quickly answered back for each team. Freshman Sydney Berlin dominated late-match add Kennedy Wicker on Court 6 in a swift 6-1, 6-0 win for the Gators’ first point.
Dimitrova didn’t have as much luck against Silvia Chinellato, only tallying three games en route to a 6-1, 6-2 loss to give South Carolina the 2-1 lead.
No. 94 Emma dropped her first set on Court 3 and quickly answered back with a 4-2 second set lead. No. 102 Horvit came fighting back and won five of the next six games to solidify the third point for South Carolina in a 6-4, 7-5 win.
Freshman Zein came out hot early, controlling the first set against Davies with a 6-1 win. The sophomore rebounded with a a second set win, but Zein took over and defeated her in a three-set thriller (6-1, 4-6, 6-2) for Florida’s second point.
After pulling out a quick first set lead over No. 28 Cline, Kessler dropped the second set 6-2. She faced a decisive third set while Jarlskog played right beside her on Court 1 against one of her toughest opponents of the season in No. 4 Martins.
Jarlskog won the first set over Martins, and barely fell in the second set after a lost tiebreaker. She pulled away with three straight games in the third set but wasn’t able to complete the match.
Kessler fell on Court 2 in the third set 7-5 to give the Gamecocks their first win over Florida at the Ring Tennis Complex in program history.
“We just look like a completely different team than we did a few months ago,” Thornqvist said. “We look like a prototypical Florida team now where we compete and are emotionally engaged.”
Follow Victor Prieto on Twitter @victorprieto_11 and contact him at [email protected].