UF Women’s Tennis: Gators Roll to Win Over Tide in SEC Opener

Junior Sydney Berlin clinched a win for the Gators for the third time this season.
Photo By: Isabella Marley

Courtesy of University Athletic Association


Women’s tennis improves to 37-4 all-time in conference openers with 4-1 win Friday afternoon

Behind a strong performance in doubles followed by an excellent effort in singles, the University of Florida women’s tennis team notched a 4-1 win in its conference opener at Alabama Friday afternoon at the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility.
After winning the doubles point, Florida posted wins on three of the first four singles courts to propel it to an impressive victory over an Alabama squad that entered the match sporting an 9-1 record.
Picking up her third match-clinching win of the season, junior Sydney Berlin provided the fireworks from court five as she shook off an early first-set deficit to post a 7-5, 6-4 victory over UA’s Anna Marie Hiser.
Junior Marlee Zein, playing Florida’s No. 2 spot, collected her second straight win, while senior Ida Jarlskog was meticulous with a 6-2, 6-2 victory from court three.
With the victory, Florida (3-3, 1-0) improved to 37-4 all time in SEC lid-lifters and extended its advantage in the series against Alabama to 44-2.
No. 32 McCartney Kessler, after falling in her opening set, looked like she was on the road to a win as well, but her match would go unfinished at 4-6, 6-1, 3-1.
Winning the doubles point for the second time this season allowed UF to jump out to an early advantage. After the Crimson Tide claimed the opening doubles court, the Gators responded with consecutive wins on courts one and two to put them ahead. After Parkhomenko and Hiser knocked off Berlin and Amber McGinnis, Florida’s top-ranked team of Kessler and Zein helped the Gators equalize with a 6-3 victory. Dahlstrom and Jarlskog then pushed the Gators to the doubles point tally with a 6-2 win on the second court. No. 26 Kessler and Zein improved to 2-2 as a pair in dual match play.
The Crimson Tide struck first in singles and equalized with a win in straight sets on court six as Florida’s young rookie McGinnis dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to graduate student Sydney Riley.
Soon after, though, Zein’s masterpiece on court two came to a close. The junior from Texas, who has played in two three-set matches already this year, only needed two this time as she dispatched Sasha Gorchanyuk, 6-1, 6-3.
Jarlskog, the 2019 All-American from Sweden, closed out her contest next to put the Gators ahead 3-1. Improving to 3-2 in dual match play, Florida’s No. 3 cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Anna Parkhomenko.
With the Gators leading 3-1, they were in prime position to clinch the match on both courts one and five. Berlin took advantage of the opportunity and earned a hard-fought win to push the Gators to their second straight triumph. Berlin fell behind 4-3 in the first but stormed back to win the frame 7-5 before battling to a 6-4 win in the deciding set.
Along with Kessler, freshman Sara Dahlstrom’s match went unfinished with her trailing 2-6, 5-4.

NEXT UP: The Gators return to action Sunday, Jan. 21 when they wrap up their conference-opening weekend with a matchup at Auburn. First serve is set for 1 p.m. ET as the Gators and Tigers meet for the 45th time.

No. 22 UF 4 , Alabama 1

Doubles Results
No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein (UF) def. Sydney Riley and Moka Ito, 6-3
Sara Dahlstrom and Ida Jarlskog (UF) def. Alba Cortina Pou and Sasha Gorchanyuk, 6-2
Anne Marie Hiser def and Anna Parkhomenko def. Sydney Berlin and Amber McGinnis (UF), 6-3

Doubles order of finish: 3, 1,2

Singles Results
No. 32 McCartney Kessler (UF) vs. Moka Ito, 4-6, 6-1, 3-1 (Unfinished)
Marlee Zein (UF) def. Sasha Gorchanyuk, 6-1, 6-3
Ida Jarlskog  (UF) def. Anna Parkhomenko, 6-2, 6-2
Sara Dahlstrom (UF) vs.  Alba Cortina Pou, 2-6, 5-4 (Unfinished)
Sydney Berlin (UF) def. Anne Marie Hiser, 7-5, 6-4
Sydney Riley def. Amber McGinnis (UF), 6-3, 6-3

Singles order of finish: 6, 2, 3, 5

Quotes from the Court

Head Coach Roland Thornqvist

Overall thoughts on the win…
“Proud of our team, we showed great character and fight today. What we have been seeing in practice, we saw finally come into play in a match. We played with great emotion and were very powerful indoors. So I was really happy. That was a great start for the Gators. We’ve gotten better every week, we can handle some swings in matches, up and down. I was really happy, I thought it was a complete performance to be honest.”
On the key to the team securing the doubles point…
“It’s a combination of playing with more emotion and obviously executing but playing with more emotion in doubles just allows you to take a little more risk in times when you need to. Rather than in singles, sometimes you want to be poised and deliberate but in doubles playing to six, you can’t feel your way into a match, you have to come with emotion right away. That allows you to be more powerful and I thought that’s exactly what happened today.”
On Marlee Zein helping the team get going with a strong start in singles…
“It really was key. She’s playing at a high level right now. She’s gotten remarkably more consistent in her play and so coupled with her power that’s she always had, she just makes a lot fewer unforced errors. This allows her to string games together whereas before we would get to 4-4, 5-5 in matches and now if you look at a scoreboard she wins 6-2. That’s because she’s more consistent in her play.”
On Sydney Berlin and another match-clinching win…
“A completely different player for us this year. Playing with a lot more confidence; she’s got great body language and emotion when she plays. She really leads us inside in the way she sounds when she plays and everybody feeds off of that. That’s a big jump from her freshman year when she was more quiet and careful. Now she’s a college player. She brings the juice for the Gators and that helps not only her but the rest of the team.”