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UF Women’s Tennis: Gators Hold Serve, Win at Auburn

Sophomore Marlee Zein provided the match-clinching win, improving to 5-0 on the season.
Photo by Piper Hansen

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Women’s tennis holds on for thrilling 4-3 victory to nab second-straight top 50 win.

Sophomore Marlee Zein provided the heroics with a come-from-behind win on court four, as the University of Florida women’s tennis team (5-2, 2-0) completed an undefeated opening weekend in Southeastern Conference play with a gritty 4-3 victory at No. 48 Auburn Sunday afternoon.

Trailing 3-2, Florida had their backs against the wall, but Zein and Ida Jarlskog delivered the finishing blows with impressive three-set winners from the No. 3 and No. 4 courts, respectively. Zein, extending her unblemished record to 5-0 on the young season, dropped the first set 6-3 but bounced back with a 6-4 win in the second to set up a winner-take-all third frame. With all eyes on her court, Zein posted a 7-5 victory in the tiebreak to seal the Gator win.

Zein, Jarlskog, and No. 49 McCartney Kessler all recorded singles wins in the matchup.

The Gators, who have won four consecutive matches after beginning the campaign 1-2, kicked off the contest by winning the doubles point for the third time in their last four matchups.

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Following the doubles success, Kessler added to UF’s advantage with a 6-2, 6-2 victory on court one over No. 78 Taylor Russo. After Kessler’s tally, Auburn went on its run with three straight wins on courts two, five, and six. Selin Ovunc ignited Auburn’s scoring surge with a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 113 Victoria Emma. Next, Florida’s lone senior Tsveta Dimitrova saw her two-match winning streak come to a close after she dropped a 6-4, 7-5 tilt to Madeline Meredith.

Florida’s Sydney Berlin posted a 6-0 victory in her opening set and had a match point in set two but couldn’t hold on, as AU’s Carolyn Ansari fought back for a 0-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory.

After its string of wins, Auburn held a 3-2 lead.

Jarlskog, collecting her fourth straight win, earned a hard-fought victory over Yu Chen, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to equalize the score.

With all eyes on her court, Zein rose to the occasion and registered the deciding win.

Winning for the third straight match, Kessler and Zein produced a 6-3 win from the Gators’ top doubles spot. Berlin and Emma clinched the doubles point with a win on court three.

The Gators improved to 44-0 against the Tigers.

After two straight matches away from home to start the SEC season, the Gators return to the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex to host Texas A&M and LSU next weekend.

Up Next
Friday, March 6 | 5 p.m.
Florida vs. LSU
Aflred A. Ring Tennis Complex | Gainesville, Fla.

Florida vs. Auburn Doubles Results
McCartney Kessler / Marlee Zein (Florida) def. Taylor Russo/Selin Ovunc, 6-3
Madeline Meredith/Georgie Axon def. Ida Jarlskog / Tsveta Dimitrova (Florida), 6-2
Victoria Emma / Sydney Berlin (Florida) def. Yu Chen/Carolyn Ansari, 6-3

Doubles order of finish: 2,1,3

Singles Results
No. 49 McCartney Kessler (Florida) def. Taylor Russo, 6-2, 6-2
Selin Ovunc def. No. 113 Victoria Emma (Florida), 6-3, 6-3
Ida Jarlskog (Florida) def. Yu Chen, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Marlee Zein (Florida) def. Georgie Axon, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)
Carolyn Ansari def. Sydney Berlin (Florida), 0-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
Madeline Meredith def. Tsveta Dimitrova (Florida), 6-4, 7-5

Singles order of finish: 1,2,6,5,3,4

Quotes from the Court

Head Coach Roland Thornqvist

Overall thoughts on the match…
“That was one of the most roller-coaster matches I’ve seen in quite some time. It all came down to two points on Marlee’s (Zein) court, and she came through for the team. She’s been in this situation a few times in her career, and each time she’s showed great poise and composure. I was really impressed with the way she stayed with it after some things didn’t go her way early on. To her credit, she really responded well when, for five minutes, all eyes were on her court. Overall, I thought we showed some great signs today. We showed that we can figure out a way to win, even when our play on certain courts isn’t clicking. Auburn was really tough, they played so hard. We are really happy to walk out of this with a win. We look forward to building on this next weekend when we come back home.”