UF Women’s Tennis: Gators Finish Strong at Bulldog Invitational

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

Women’s tennis posts two victories at final day of competition in Athens.

The University of Florida women’s tennis team completed its final day of competition at the Bulldog Invitational Sunday as McCartney Kessler and Sydney Berlin both finished 3-0 for the event.

Winning each of their matches in straight sets, Kessler and Berlin finished their weekends on a high note while freshman Sara Dahlstrom fell in a highly-contested matchup to Elizabeth Stevens.

After the tournament schedule was altered yesterday due to inclement weather, the Gators played only singles matches against Kentucky at the final day of the all-SEC clash.

Florida claimed victories in two of its three opening sets as Kessler and Berlin began with wins while Dahlstrom fell short in a tiebreak (7-6) in her first frame.

Berlin’s was the first court to go as she put the finishes touches on a 6-3, 6-2 win over UK’s Fiona Arrese. With her first two-set victory of the event, Berlin completed the tournament with a 3-0 record.

Kessler added UF’s second victory when she grinded to a two-set win over Carla Girbau of Kentucky. Kessler made quick work of her opponent in the opening stanza but saw much more of a back-and-forth battle in set two.

Kessler, putting the cherry on top of an impressive weekend of tennis, won the second set 7-5 to push her record for the tournament to 3-0.

Florida’s final court active was Dahlstrom’s where the Gator freshman met Kentucky’s freshman, Stevens. The two exchanged blows at an even pace in the early going, but Stevens had the upper hand late in the first set as she held on to win the tie breaker 7-4. The second set was also a very competitive one, but again it was Stevens who would hold on.

Florida finished the weekend 8-3 in singles and 3-3 in doubles.

Quotes from the Court – Roland Thornqvist
Overall thoughts on the match…
“I thought we played really well today again. McCartney (Kessler) had the most outstanding weekend obviously, she ran into a bit of trouble in the second set but has found a new level mentally in the way she competes. That certainly showed this weekend. She was able to problem solve well and really put it into a higher gear at the end. Overall this was a great weekend. We learned a lot. It was really nice to be able to compete and see the other teams and where we need to get better. I thought our players had great attitudes all weekend and played for each other. Overall I was really pleased.”

On Sydney Berlin’s play…
“Yes, we sort of kidded around after the match, you know, that she only needed two sets today but she is getting better at problem solving. That’s really helping her. When the pace slows and she has time, Sydney is much more consistent now than she was last year and in addition to the consistency, her forehand is becoming more versatile. She can hold on to the ball and mix that with some quick offense off the forehand. I think she’s feeling really good with the way she is competing, too. The way she competes is also better than it was in the past, I’m really pleased overall.”

On the team’s play in singles…
“I like the way we are competing, I like the way we are trying like it’s all out passion for the Gators. We are trying to problem solve. I think Sara (Dahlstrom), being new, really learned a lot. She was a little nervous in this event because this is all new to her, but that’s good. It just shows the passion and desire to do well is there. So since she’s very talented, all she needs now is some time and experience and the nerves will go away. Then her big game will start to shine.”

On how the team handled the fall season…
“I think our players have handled this fall really well. It could be really tricky with not having access to our locker room, COVID-19 protocols, tournaments sort of up in the air, practices sort of being changed on a moment’s notice, and I think we have had a great attitude about it. A willingness to let things be flexible and that’s not easy at times, so I really want to commend our team’s attitude in how they approached this fall. I think we need to talk about continuing to have that attitude and flexibility with what could happen in the spring with the public health piece and perhaps SEC changes in regulation or our playing schedule. If we can do that, we give ourselves a chance to be the best we can be.