WOMEN’S TENNIS: Bulldogs Knock off No. 1 Gators

The No. 6 Georgia women’s tennis team upset No.1 Florida on Friday, ending the Gators’ home-winning streak of 163 matches at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Center.

The Bulldogs (10-3, 4-1 SEC) handed the Gators (13-1, 3-1 SEC) their first doubles loss in six matches to take a 1-0 lead into singles play. Then, Georgia’s Ellen Perez, Elena Christofi and Mariana Gould won their singles matches to secure the Bulldog victory.

“It was really critical to get that doubles point,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “The No. 1 doubles did a great job today, No. 2 was down a break but found a way to come back and win. The doubles point was just huge and it gave us momentum.”

Florida started off doubles with a win on court three, but Georgia’s duo of Perez and Caroline Brinson beat the 15th-ranked UF duo of Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan, 7-5, on court one. After being tied at 5-all on court No. 2, Bulldogs’ tandem Christofi and Kennedy Shaffer, ranked 58th, finished off Anna Danilina and Ingrid Neel (#11) 7-5.

“Then in singles, Ellen (Perez) and (Elena) Christofi on No. 1 and No. 2 ran through their opponents to give us three points really quick. The rest of the matches were just battling but Mariana (Gould) found a way to get that match. She had a match point that (Kourtney) Keegan fought off then she finally closed it out in that tiebreaker. It was great tennis, really exciting.”

In singles, No. 55 Perez took down No. 19 Belinda Woolcock on court one, 6-2, 6-1, in the first completed singles match. Shortly after, freshman Elena Christofi (#18) defeated Florida’s top freshman Ingrid Neel (#14) 6-2, 6-1 to give Georgia a commanding 3-0 lead. Neel is one of four freshmen in the nation that are ranked higher than Christofi who now sports a team-best 23-4 overall record.

On court four, Josie Kuhlman beat Bulldogs’ senior Caroline Brinson, 6-3, 6-0, for the Gators’ first point. The deciding match occurred on court six with Gould, a junior from Boise, Idaho. Gould won the first set 6-2 then edged No. 32 Kourtney Keegan in the second set tiebreaker 7-6 (5) to seal the win.

The win over a No. 1 opponent was Georgia’s first since the Bulldogs defeated UCLA in the National Team Indoors in 2015. The Bulldogs have won the doubles point in fourth straight matches.

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