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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 25, 2024
Women's Tennis

Wisconsin struggled in its final home match of the season.

Wisconsin drops first match to defending champion Florida

The previously undefeated Wisconsin Badgers (6-1) welcomed the defending champion No. 3 Florida Gators to Madison in the first round of the 2018 ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship Friday night. But in doing so, the Badgers suffered their first defeat of the season as the Gators shut out Wisconsin 5-0.

A packed crowd filled Nielsen Tennis Stadium for this much anticipated tournament, which sees Wisconsin host 16 of the top ranked women’s tennis teams in the nation. There was a visible increase in UW’s intensity, particularly by head coach Kelcy McKenna, who could be seen extremely animated while motivating her team before the match.

The Gators took the closely contested doubles point early, with McCartney Kessler and Josie Kuhlman defeating Melissa Pick and Lexi Keberle 6-1. UF next secured the doubles point with Victoria Emma and Anna Danilina defeating MaryAnn Rompf and Kelsey Grambeau 6-4. The third doubles match was suspended after Florida secured the point, with Christina Zordani and Michelle Linden winning 5-4.

UF showed its strength in singles, dominating UW across the board and not dropping a single set. Kuhlman defeated Rompf 6-2, 6-0 at second singles. At the fourth slot, Kessler took down Pick 6-1, 6-2. Linden was shut out at the fifth singles spot, losing to Florida’s Peggy Porter 6-0, 6-0.

Grambeau gave Florida its closest match at third singles, losing by a score of 6-3, 6-2. The first and sixth singles matches were suspended after Florida had already clinched the victory.

The Badgers, who had previously breezed through the early portion of their schedule, saw a big step up in competition and experience as it competed against the Gators.

“We’re playing the defending national champions and they also won National Indoors last year, so obviously they are a little bit more experienced,” McKenna said. “This group, everyone except Grambeau, has never competed at this event.”

Florida represents the best team the Badgers have faced so far this season and most likely will be the best team UW faces for the remainder of the season. However, as Wisconsin looks ahead to the two remaining matches of the ITA National Indoors tournament, two road trips to Las Vegas and Virginia and the start of its Big Ten schedule, the Badgers must learn from, and build off of, today’s match in preparation for their challenging upcoming schedule.

McKenna sees multiple places they can improve.

“At one we need to a little bit of a better job taking care of the ball,” she said. “At number three we could’ve done a little bit of a better job closing out. We need to make sure we are doing an unbelievable job with our body and take our aggressive chances whenever we can.”

And, although Wisconsin struggled, McKenna took some positives out of the match that the Badgers can build off of.

“We took some great chances at number one doubles and number three doubles,” she said. “We definitely had our moments. Moving forward, we had certain players that did an unbelievable job with their energy and I’d like to see all six people who are competing do that tomorrow.”

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UW faces No. 21 Wake Forest tomorrow in the consolation bracket, where McKenna said they are “really excited for another opportunity.”

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