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UF Women’s Tennis: Gators Fall in a Tight One to Texas A&M

Junior McCartney Kessler posted a victory over a ranked opponent Sunday.

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Despite starting the match off strong by winning the doubles point, the No. 38 University of Florida women’s tennis team (5-4, 2-2) fell 4-2 to visiting No. 36 Texas A&M (12-4, 2-2) in SEC play Sunday afternoon at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.
 
The Gators, who entered the match 3-0 when corralling the doubles point, held the momentum early on but saw the Aggies take control in singles play.
 
No. 58 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein teamed up to earn a victory over a ranked opponent in doubles, and Kessler collected the Gators’ lone singles win. Sydney Berlin and Victoria Emma also won in doubles in the hard-fought loss.
 
Battling their fourth-straight team ranked within the nation’s top 50, the Gators had their chances to break through but couldn’t capitalize in singles.
 
Texas A&M struck first in singles play with wins on courts two and three, but No. 54 Kessler helped the Gators equalize with her fifth dual match victory.
 
Two of three remaining matches extended to three sets, but the Aggies registered wins from the fifth and sixth courts to propel them to their 13th win this season.
 
The Gators began the day by claiming the doubles point with victories on courts two and three. Emma and Berlin posted a 6-4 win over Faa-Hviding and Quiterio on the third court, while No. 58 Kessler and Zein won by the same tally from the top spot. Emma and Berlin built an early 3-2 lead and held on while Kessler and Zein erased a 5-2 deficit. Kessler and Zein picked up their first win over a ranked tandem this season as they dispatched No. 37 Makarova and Goldsmith, who entered the match having won three-consecutive contests. Tsveta Dimitrova and Ida Jarlskog raced out to an early 3-1 lead but saw their tilt go unfinished at 4-4. The Aggies entered the day with a 28-11 mark overall in doubles.
 
The Aggies swung the momentum back in their favor with some success in the early going of singles, notching wins in the opening sets on four of the six courts.
 
Jarlskog was the first to fall; her five-match winning streak come to an end with a 6-1, 6-4 loss to left-handed Jayci Goldsmith. Soon after, No. 111 Emma dropped a 6-2, 6-2 verdict to No. 107 Dorhea Faa-Hviding.
 
Kessler, adding her third win over a ranked foe this season, was excellent from court one, taking out No. 99 Tatiana Makarova, 6-3, 6-2 to even the tally.
 
Dimitrova built a 2-1 lead on court six and, after dropping a tight first set, showed signs of a comeback in the ensuing frame. The senior couldn’t quite battle back, though, and suffered a 7-5, 6-3 defeat to Riley McQuaid, who entered the match in singles after not playing in doubles.
 
Now trailing 3-2, Florida was in need of two victories. On court five, Berlin put together an impressive second set but fell 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 as Lucia Quiterio clinched the contest for the Aggies.
 
The sophomore Zein dominated her opening set but wasn’t able to complete her match as the dual went unfinished at 6-1, 3-6, 3-4.
 
Florida falls to 8-3 all time against Texas A&M and after consecutive home defeats will hit the road for more conference play next weekend.
 
Up Next
Friday, March 13 | 4 p.m.
No. 38 Florida at No. 7 Georgia
Dan Magill Tennis Complex | Athens, Ga.

Quotes from the Court

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Head Coach Roland Thornqvist:
 
Overall thoughts on the match…
“I thought we probably lacked belief, really, is what it looked like. In a couple of spots we had leads in singles, and we let leads slip away. That’s disheartening, frankly, and that’s something we are going to correct. We have prided ourselves here in using the heat and humidity to be our friend, but in order to do that, we have to have better ball tolerance. I thought we gave away too many free points; we worked so hard to get the lead but then in a blink of an eye we lose leads on multiple courts. In this league, they’ll punish you. You have to be able to sustain those things, and I think that cost us today. I thought we played a fantastic doubles point, but in singles it looked like we lost focus and lost belief. And we couldn’t convert some of those leads we had.”
 
On what the team has to do to bounce back with a tough road swing coming up…
“We obviously know that in this league, it’s the same every year; every weekend you have to bring your ‘A’ game or you’ll be punished. Just as we felt good about ourselves after last weekend, you can’t get too excited when you win, and you certainly can’t bury yourself when you lose.