No. 5 Carolina Downs No. 26 Florida in Final Regular-Season Match
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – South Carolina senior Paige Cline clinched the Gamecocks’ first win over Florida in 37 years, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.
No. 5-ranked Carolina’s (17-3, 12-1 SEC) victory over the No. 26 Gators (11-10, 7-6 SEC) was the first since 1982, with the Gamecocks winning, 5-4.
With South Carolina up, 3-2, and only two matches left on, No. 28 Cline was fighting for a three-set win against No. 37 McCartney Kessler on court two. In the first set, Cline battled with Kessler, but fell, 6-4. Cline took command of the second set, racing to a, 6-2, victory. In the final set with the match on the line, Cline was up, 5-3, on Kessler. The Gator made a run, tying the third set, 5-5. Cline did not allow Kessler a single point in the next game, taking a, 6-5, lead. Cline continued to grind in the final game, coming out on top, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, and clinching the overall match for her teammates.
“As always, Florida was a very tough team,” head coach Kevin Epley said. “They really brought it (Saturday) and we had to dig as deep as we could to get the victory. Like so many times this year, the match came down to Paige and, once again, she proved why she is one of the best players in the SEC.”
The Gamecocks started out strong, grabbing the doubles point with wins on courts one and two. Finishing first, Cline and Rachel Rohrabacher defeated Ida Jarlskog and Tsveta Dimitrova at the No. 2 spot, 6-2.
At the No. 1 position, No. 2-ranked Ingrid Martins and Mia Horvit started their match by going back-and-forth with No. 51 Victoria Emma and Kessler. Tied, 2-2, the Gamecocks reeled off three-straight games for a, 5-2, lead. Finishing things off things for the Carolina, Martins and Horvit topped the Gators, 6-3, taking the doubles point for their team.
Getting off of the court first in singles, Silvia Chinellato downed Dimitrova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, at the No. 2 spot, putting Carolina up, 2-0.
On court six, Kennedy Wicker was not able to top Sydney Berlin, falling, 6-1, 6-0, and making the score, 2-1, in favor of the Gamecocks.
No. 102 Horvit outlasted No. 94 Emma in the first set for a, 6-4, victory at the No. 3 position. In the second set, Horvit had an, 4-2, advantage over Emma before the two ended up knotted, 5-5. Fighting for a lead, Horvit put one into the back corner for a, 6-5, lead. Claiming her second game in-a-row, Horvit topped Emma, 7-5, extending the Gamecocks’ lead, 3-1.
On court four, Megan Davies and Marlee Zein split their first two sets. In the first set, Zein earned a, 6-1, win. Davies found herself down, 4-3, in the second set. She then claimed three-straight games, taking the second set, 6-4, and forcing a third. In the final set, Davies was not able to find her groove against Zein, falling, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, and bringing the score to 3-2, Carolina.
Finishing things off for Carolina, Cline ended the match with her, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, victory against Kessler at the No. 2 position.
Up next, the Gamecocks prepare for the SEC Championship hosted by Texas A&M from Wednesday, April 17 to Sunday, April 21 at the Mitchell Tennis Center.
Continue to check back with gamecocksonline.com for more updates or follow the team on social media (@GamecockWTennis).