“Georgia Bulldogs” chants resonated through the Ring Tennis Complex as Meg Kowalski claimed the Bulldogs 12th-consecutive victory.
Just 11 days ago, Florida’s women’s tennis team was in bad shape.
No. 2 Georgia (12-0) entered Gainesville with five players ranked in the ITA Top 100, compared to just three for No. 34 Florida. The Bulldogs’ deep lineup gave Florida trouble all match long, resulting in a 4-1 loss.
“Georgia is a fantastic team and clearly they have a shot to go a long way,” said coach Roland Thornqvist after the match. “They outplayed us in certain spots so you have to just congratulate them.”
The Gators’ energetic crowd helped them take an opening lead on Court 1. Unfortunately for Florida, that was it’s only successful doubles match.
Marlee Zein and Anastasia Kharitonova fell behind quickly on Court 3 to UGA’s Kowalski and Marta Gonzalez. The freshmen continued to fight back when it seemed the Bulldogs put them out of reach, Their effort wasn’t enough, however, and they fell 6-3.
Sophomore tandem McCartney Kessler and Victoria Emma rode their dominant four match win streak into Friday’s match and succeeded in extending it to five. Kessler and Emma controlled most of the match, leading to a 6-4 victory over Georgia’s No. 74 ranked duo Lourdes Carle and Katarina Jokic.
Attention shifted to the decisive doubles match between Florida’s Tsveta Dimitrova and Ida Jarlskog and the Bulldogs’ Elena Christofi and Vivian Wolff on Court 2. The Gators’ transfer duo trailed by two games early on but battled back to tie the match.
Facing a double-match point and sitting in a 5-4 hole, Florida couldn’t afford losing another point, but Christofi’s screamer down the left sideline thought otherwise, sealing the opening point for Georgia 6-4. The Gators dropped the doubles point for the first time in five matches.
UGA’s Christofi dominated Dimitrova to start singles play. The Houston transfer won just one game the entire match, leading to a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing and a swift second point for Georgia.
With a flurry of close matches surrounding No. 44 Kessler on Court 2, she made quick work in her singles match, defeating No. 16 Gonzalez 6-4, 6-2 to cut Georgia’s lead to one. The Bulldogs wasted no time to extend their lead, though.
With a masterful dropshot, No. 92 Carle finished off No. 52 Emma to give Georgia a 3-1 lead. Wolff finished Florida on Court 4, putting away Zein in three sets (7-5, 6-2, 6-0) to clinch the victory for the Bulldogs.
The highly anticipated matchup between No. 1 Jokic and No. 12 Jarlskog finished with no decision, while Kharitonova battled through a rollercoaster match on Court 6, which also failed to finish.
“I really think we’re continuing to improve,” Thornqvist said. “I thought at the beginning of this season with the youth we have and the first time in this league that we were going to have a lot of growing pains. . . but it's getting better and that was our message in the (locker room).”
Follow Victor Prieto on Twitter @victorprieto_11 and contact him at [email protected].