Women's tennis: No. 5 Vanderbilt takes out top-ranked Florida to win SEC title
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a battle of national collegiate tennis titans, No. 5 Vanderbilt upset top-ranked Florida 4-2 to earn the team's first-ever Southeastern Conference regular-season championship.
The feat is one of many firsts in a span of three seasons as head coach Geoff Macdonald and his squad won the program's first-ever SEC and NCAA tournament titles in 2015.
Prior to first serve, Vandy honored its two seniors, Sydney Campbell and Georgina Sellyn, for their love and dedication to the tennis program.
Following the emotional ceremony, Vanderbilt came out on fire in doubles, playing aggressive tennis. The confident play garnered generous leads on courts one and three. UF earned the first win on the day at No. 2 doubles, as 2016 NCAA doubles champions Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan came out on top against Campbell and Emma Kurtz, 6-2.
With the pressure of clinching the paramount doubles point on their shoulders, courts one and three found themselves in good position but allowed tight deuce points and games to slip away as the Gators chipped away at leads.
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No. 5 Astra Sharma and Emily Smith earned another top-25 victory, as the pairing put way No. 19 Anna Danilina and Ingrid Neel 6-4 to level the opportunity. Once up 5-1 on court three, Fernanda Contreras and Christina Rosca managed to lock down the one-point Vanderbilt lead against Belinda Woolcock and Josie Kuhlman, 6-4.
In singles, both teams split first sets, as Vanderbilt took the opening set advantage on courts one, two and six.
The Gators tied the match 1-1, winning the first singles match of the competition. In one of her toughest matches this season, Sellyn fought hard on court five against the 2016 SEC Player of the Year Brooke Austin. With key points going the Gator's way, Austin pulled off the close victory, 6-4, 6-4.
Following victories by No. 91 Contreras then No.4 Sharma, Vanderbilt found itself with the 3-1 advantage.
Earning her highest-ranked career win, Contreras remains undefeated at No. 6 singles in SEC play. The sophomore from Austin, Texas, only allowed No. 40 Keegan five games in her 6-2, 6-3 straight set victory.
In an ITA top-10 battle, the highest-ranked player in the SEC, Sharma, ran away with her first set against No. 7 Woolcock. With Sharma up 5-2, the Gator looked to be mounting a comeback by taking two additional games before the Perth, Australia, native could seal the deal for the back and gold, 6-2, 6-4.
Florida earned its final point of the outing on court three, as No. 98 Rosca faced off against No. 30 Neel. The freshman played relentless tennis on court three, rebounding back into the second set to nearly force a third. Neel walked away still undefeated at the position, 6-0, 7-5.
In a scrappy match, Campbell fought back from a 3-6 deficit in her opening set tiebreaker to take the advantage, 7-6 (6). With Kurtz fighting desperately on court four to force a second-set tiebreaker, Campbell broke serve, taking the final game (40-15) for the Dores' first-ever SEC regular season championship.