UF Women’s Tennis: Gators Fall to No. 25 LSU in SEC Home Opener

Florida battled its fifth nationally-ranked opponent Friday.
Photo by Sam Stolte

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Women’s tennis drops 4-2 final to nationally-ranked Tigers Friday night.

The No. 38 University of Florida women’s tennis team (5-3, 2-1) saw its four-match winning streak come to a close Friday evening, dropping a 4-2 decision to No. 25 LSU (10-2, 3-0) at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

Battling its third straight top 50 side, the Gators notched two singles victories, but in the end the Tigers walked away with their seventh-consecutive win.

Junior Ida Jarlskog and sophomore Sydney Berlin collected victories in the narrow defeat. Jarlskog, playing at the No. 2 position for the second time this season, won her fifth-straight match, while Berlin produced a 6-4, 6-4 win on court five.

Hosting their first conference match of the campaign, the Gators weren’t able to establish the doubles point despite a gritty effort. After the doubles point went their way, the Tigers added singles wins on court three, four and one to register just their second-ever win over UF.

Florida fell behind early when the Tigers secured the doubles point with victories on courts one and three. Falling to 3-2 on the season, Victoria Emma and Berlin came up short 6-3 to Carrington and Cubitt of LSU. The remaining two bouts were very tight, and both were tied at 5-5 at a point. UF’s Tsveta Dimitrova and Jarlskog built an early 5-2 lead but saw the Tiger tandem of Loughlan and Corley battle back to tie it up. The Gators’ No. 2 squad responded, though, and held on 7-5.

Court one was the last to finish, and it was a highly-contested showdown between a pair of ranked duos. No. 58 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein dropped a hard-fought 7-6 (8-6) decision to LSU’s Richardson and Geissler, the nation’s 26th-ranked tandem. The Gators’ top team, who saw their three-match win streak snapped, stormed back from a 5-2 deficit but couldn’t break through in the tiebreaker.

Eden Richardson, a 2019 All-American, won the NCAA Doubles Championship in 2018.

LSU opened the singles scoring with a victory on court three, as Richardson claimed her seventh-straight win with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 111 Emma. Florida responded with a win on court two, as Jarlskog posted an impressive 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 71 Safiya Carrington. Jarlskog improved her record to 5-1 and won for the first time over a ranked foe in 2020.

The Tigers extended their lead to 3-1 when Zein suffered her first defeat of the season on court four. The sophomore, who entered the match 5-0, fell 6-4, 6-0 to Nina Geisler.

The Gators clawed their way back to a one-score deficit when the left-handed Berlin held serve for a straight-sets win on court five.

With two courts remaining, the Gators, trailing 3-2, were in need of victories on both. Despite a strong effort, No. 54 Kessler was the final domino to fall, as she was tripped up by No. 36 Taylor Bridges, 6-4, 6-2. The junior, Bridges, improved to 7-2 on the young season.

Dimitrova, who raced out to a 2-0 lead, saw her match go unfinished at 3-6, 6-6 on the sixth court.

Florida falls to 2-3 when dropping the doubles point, and all three of its losses this season have come against top 25 opponents.

Up Next
Sunday, March 8 | 1 p.m.
No. 38 Florida (5-3, 2-1) vs. No. 36 Texas A&M (12-4, 1-2)
Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex | Gainesville, Fla.  

No. 25 LSU 4, No. 38 Florida 2
Doubles Results
No. 26 Eden Richardson/Nina Geissler def. No. 58 McCartney Kessler/Marlee Zein (Florida), 7-6 (8-6)
Ida Jarlskog/Tsveta Dimitrova (Florida) def. Anna Loughlan/Paris Corley, 7-5
Safiya Carrington/Maggie Cubitt def. Victoria Emma/Sydney Berlin (Florida), 6-3

Doubles order of finish:  3,2,1

Singles Results
No. 36 Taylor Bridges def. No. 54 McCartney Kessler (Florida), 6-4, 6-2
Ida Jarlskog (Florida) def. No. 71 Safiya Carrington, 6-4, 6-2
Eden Richardson def. No. 111 Victoria Emma (Florida), 6-2, 6-2
Nina Geissler def. Marlee Zein (Florida), 6-4, 6-0
Sydney Berlin (Florida) def. Paris Corley, 6-4, 6-4
Tsveta Dimitrova (Florida) vs. Maggie Cubitt, 3-6, 6-6 (Unfinished)

Singles order of finish: 3,2,4,5,1

Quotes from the Court

Head Coach Roland Thornqvist:

Overall thoughts on the match…
“First of all, I want to really give LSU credit because I thought we were getting after them pretty good on multiple courts, and they were really impressive by how they handled our pressure. They were very durable today, obviously more so than us, and I was very impressed by that. I thought we continued to develop in doubles and obviously with a tiebreak there’s a point here or a point there to decide the winner. I’m pleased with that. They have a National Champion on their doubles squad there, and we were inches away from getting it done. Obviously walking into the locker room after, this is a somber group, and now I think the task for us is to have a spirited practice tomorrow and be ready for another talented team in Texas A&M on Sunday. We told the team in the locker room that this is why they came to Florida, you want to play two giants back to back, so we have to prepare mentally and unemotionally evaluate what happened today. We’ll need to get better from it and get ready to unload again Sunday.”

On LSU starting off by winning the doubles point…
“I’m not that worried about this group being really tied emotionally to the doubles point. I think with the Oklahoma win and Alabama match, last week we have shown we can weather the doubles point storm, if you will. So I’m not concerned with this team about having a let down after losing the doubles point. Frankly I was really impressed with LSU, they had great players 1-6. Like I said, we were punching at them hard, and they handled it really well.”