UF Women’s Tennis: No. 21 Florida Falls at No. 8 FSU Thursday

Florida’s No. 1 McCartney Kessler saw her match go unfinished but played a very strong singles match.
Photo By: Sam Stolte

Courtesy of University Athletic Association


Sara Dahlstrom adds a singles win but Gators come up short against in-state foe on the road

Results (PDF)

The No. 21 University of Florida women’s tennis team dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 8 Florida State, Thursday evening at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.

Freshman Sara Dahlstrom collected her second dual match win in three tries and the Gators were leading on two courts when the contest came to a close, but it wasn’t enough as Florida fell to 56-5 all time against the Seminoles.

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Playing for the second straight time on the road, Florida came out strong in doubles but couldn’t hold on as the Seminoles collected the doubles point and posted singles victories on three of the first four courts to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

Taking on a talented FSU team that featured three ranked singles players and a pair of ranked doubles units, Florida dropped a match in Tallahassee for just the second time in program history, but with a few more bounces its way could have left with a different result. Looking to follow Dahlstrom’s lead, No. 32 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein held leads on courts one and three, respectively, but No. 92 Nandina Das of FSU clinched the match for the Seminoles with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ida Jarlskog before they could have their final say. Jarlskog fought back to tie the second set at 4-4 but couldn’t quite break through despite a fiery effort.

The doubles point was highly contested, and the opening action featured some high-level play from both squads. Florida, after dropping the opening game on all three courts, responded and built 2-1 leads quickly on two of its three courts. The Gators led in all three matchups midway through the action, but the Seminoles fought back to post 4-3 leads on both courts one and three. Despite the Gators getting out to a strong start, the Seminoles closed on courts one and three to claim the doubles point.

Court one was the first to fall as the Seminoles’ Petra Hule and Victoria Allen, the nation’s No. 7 pairing, collected a 6-3 win over No. 26 Kessler and Zein. The Seminoles secured the point on the third court after Sydney Berlin and Amber McGinnis dropped a 6-4 decision. Berlin and McGinnis raced out to a 3-1 edge and led 40-30 with hopes of taking a 4-1 lead, but their counterpart battled back with wins in three straight games and secured a 4-3 advantage. The Florida duo came back to tie it at 4-4 but couldn’t hold off Das and Garcia in the end.

The all-Swedish duo at No. 2 for Florida, Jarlskog and Dahlstrom, led 5-3 over No. 50 Giulia Pairone and Emmanuelle Salas but saw their match go unfinished with a tally of 5-4.

FSU struck first in singles as UF’s Sydney Berlin suffered a 6-1, 6-2 setback to No. 106 Victoria Allen.

The Gators answered swiftly, though, when the rookie Dahlstrom registered an impressive 6-3, 6-2 victory over the redshirt-junior Salas from court four. The hard-hitting Dahlstrom made quick work of Salas, who has over 40 career collegiate wins.

Trailing 2-1, Florida would need to run the table from here on out, and it was in contention to do so, but McGinnis would need to flip a second set against FSU’s Andrea Garcia. After tying up the score 2-2 in her second set, McGinnis saw Garcia win four straight games and secure FSU’s third point, setting up what would be the final matchup on court two.

Leading 6-4, 5-2 over No. 27 Pairone, the senior Kessler was closing in on her second straight win over a ranked opponent, but the match was left unfinished.

The Gators return home Tuesday, Feb. 9 to host No. 22 UCF at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex as the teams meet for the second time in 11 days.

No. 8 Florida State 4, No. 21 Florida 1

Doubles Results

No. 7 Petra Hule and Victoria Allen def. No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein (UF), 6-3
Sara Dahlstrom and Ida Jarlskog (UF) No. 50 Giulia Pairone and Emmanuelle Salas  5-4 (Unfinished)
Nandini Das and Andrea Garcia def. Amber McGinnis and Sydney Berlin (UF), 6-4

Doubles order of finish: 1,3

Singles Results
No. 32 McCartney Kessler (UF) vs. No. 27 Giulia Pairone, 6-4, 5-2 (Unfinished)
No. 92 Nandini Das def. Ida Jarlskog (UF), 6-2, 6-4
Marlee Zein (UF) vs. Petra Hule, 6-1, 6-7, 1-0 (Unfinished)
Sara Dahlstrom (UF) def. Emmanuelle Salas, 6-3, 6-2
No. 106 Victoria Allen def. Sydney Berlin (UF), 6-1, 6-2
Andrea Garcia def. Amber McGinnis (UF), 6-3, 6-2

Singles order of finish: 5, 4, 6,2

Quotes from the Court

Head Coach Roland Thornqvist

Overall thoughts on the match…
“You know obviously this is going to be a very quiet bus ride home. Overall, I think we have lost two matches that are winnable, quietly frankly for us. I think they feel that, too, but we are still too spotty in our performance. In doubles we are still not there; we were better today than last week, but we’re still not really quite adept in taking some opportunities. In singles obviously there are some highlights, McCartney’s (Kessler) play at No. 1 was fantastic. She’s really improved in her tenure here and that’s pro-level play. That’s really great to see all the work she has put in; she’s one of the nation’s best players, and I think she showed that here today.

“Sara’s (Dahlstrom) play was considerably better today, you know it really was a night-and-day type performance versus last week. Last week was her first road match, and today you could really see that she’s starting to have faith in her play. She’s so powerful, we are just trying to teach her to simplify her game a little bit and take less risks. She’s starting to have real confidence in the way she plays and it showed today. There were some highlights tonight, but we are looking forward to putting the whole thing together, that’s the thing.

“We need to find ways to get into the matches, but here and against Central Florida, we just gave away some easy singles matches and after losing the doubles point, you really need to be competitive at all six to get your teeth in it. We were close here with Ida (Jarlskog) if she turns it and Marlee (Zein) is our three-set queen and McCartney is leading. So it’s 4-1 on paper, but there’s not medals for that really. We are just going to sort of digest this for what it is and move on. We are playing a formidable team obviously against Central Florida so we need to be ready.”