GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 16 Florida women’s tennis held off No. 19 Georgia Tech’s late charge, winning 4-1 during Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Second Round match inside Linder Stadium at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.
Florida improves to 20-4 all-time in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and advances to the Round of 16 for the second-consecutive season, and for the 17th time under Head Coach Roland Thornqvist.
Carly Briggs/Rachel Gailis opened up the match with a dominating win at No. 2 doubles, shutting out Georgia’s Tech Monika Dedaj/Kate Sharabura. The 67th-ranked duo in the nation posted their 10th dual win of the season, and their fifth win in the past six matches.
After Georgia Tech won on court three, Florida’s top doubles team of Alicia Dudeney/Bente Spee clinched the crucial opening point for the Gators, fending off the Yellow Jacket’s Kylie Bilchev/Alejandra Cruz’s late comeback attempt.
After Georgia Tech cut the lead to 4-3, Dudeney/Spee halted the run, winning their fifth game to jump back up by two games. The No. 21 doubles team in the country eventually put away the Yellow Jackets on court one 6-4, as Florida entered singles play up 1-0 after notching their 17th doubles point this spring.
Dudeney continued her momentum from doubles into her singles play on court three. The 99th-ranked singles player notched her 16th dual singles win this season, tied for the team lead, with a commanding 6-1, 6-2 victory over #102 Mahak Jain, her fifth ranked win of the dual season.
Florida added on to the lead, as 17th-ranked Sara Dahlstrom took a two-set win over #15 Carol Lee 6-2, 6-4 to put the Gators one point away from advancing on to the Round of 16. The victory marked the second-highest ranked win for Florida’s First Team All-SEC player.
Georgia Tech would answer back with a 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles, with No. 31 Kylie Bilchev fending off No. 45 Carly Briggs’ late rally.
After dropping her first set, Gailis stormed back to force a third set with a 6-4 second-set win at four singles. The freshman never backed down, and clinched Florida’s second round victory with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. A member of the All-SEC Freshman team, Gailis notched her 10th straight singles victory, and is now 14-2 this season from the fourth singles spot.
On court five, Emily De Oliveira got off to a fast start, winning 6-2 in her opening set. Following Rosie Garcia Gross’ 6-2 second set win, the Brandeton sophomore wasted no time in the third set, flying to a 3-0 lead in the final frame, and was in a tight battle with Garica Gross 6-2, 3-6, 6-5 when the match was clinched.
At No. 6 singles, Bente Spee clawed her way back after dropping the first set, and was locked into a 4-6, 6-2, 3-4 thriller when Florida secured the victory.
The Gators will play the winner of No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 33 Old Dominion on either Friday, May 12 or Saturday, May 13 in the Round of 16.
QUOTES FROM THE COURT
Head Coach Roland Thornqvist
On the match…
“Another amazing match with drama. We talked yesterday after we beat North Florida that today was going to be more complicated because Rodney (Harmon’s) team, the Georgia Tech teams, are great competitors and really smart, and have the ability to find those cracks at times and wiggle their way in. We looked like we were dominating mid-way through the singles, and thirty minutes later it’s high drama. It’s a credit to Rodney and how he coaches and how his players adapt. We had to beat them. They weren’t going to give us, so you certainly saw that today. I thought we started off again playing high level doubles. Flinched a little at one doubles up 4-1, and the next thing you know it’s 4-3. To their credit, they regained their composure. It’s really important for us to play aggressive doubles, meaning we want to be proactive. We want to hit the ball and move, serve and move. Sometimes when you flinch, you hit the ball and you stay and watch. We may have done that for a few minutes, but then got right back on the horse and I was really proud to see how we closed out that doubles point, which ends up being pivotal in these highly contested matches. In singles, we used our legs when we had to, extended rallies when we had to. Sara is on a tear. She’s playing really, really well obviously and Alicia is playing high quality. We got contributions from all six of our singles players this weekend, and I’m just really pleased with how the weekend went.”
1. #21 Alicia Dudeney/Bente Spee (UF) def. Kylie Bilchev/Alejandra Cruz (GT) 6-4
2. #67 Carly Briggs/Rachel Gailis (UF) def. Monika Dedaj/Kate Sharabura (GT) 6-1
3. Rosie Garcia Gross/Carol Lee (GT) def. Emma Shelton/Sophie Williams (UF) 6-1
Order of Finish: 2,3,1
1. #17 Sara Dahlstrom (UF) def. #15 Carol Lee (GT) 6-2, 6-4
2. #31 Kylie Bilchev (GT) def. #45 Carly Briggs (UF) 6-3, 6-4
3. #99 Alicia Dudeney (UF) def. #102 Mahak Jain (GT) 6-1, 6-2
4. Rachel Gailis (UF) def. #115 Alejandra Cruz (GT) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
5. Emily De Oliveira (UF) vs. Rosie Garcia Gross (GT) 6-2, 3-6, 6-5, unfinished
6. Bente Spee (UF) vs. Kate Sharabura (GT) 4-6, 6-2, 3-4, unfinished
Order of Finish: 3,1,2,4
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