STILLWATER, Okla. — Katarina Stresnakova admitted since she came to Stillwater, her goal was to beat Florida.
Now, winning the NCAA Championship is the only serious goal left for Stresnakova, as the Oklahoma State women’s tennis team made another thrilling comeback and won 4-3, upsetting third-ranked Florida in the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center.
It was the first time OSU beat the Gators in program history.
Before No. 18 OSU (6-1) rushed the court Wednesday night, the Cowgirls were 0-10 against the Gators, including in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals last season. Defending national champion Florida (2-2) visited Stillwater for the first time and left in disappointment, losing a 3-1 advantage.
After Sofia Blanco and Marina Guinart capped off third-set victories, the packed crowd moved and had all eyes to Court 2. Megan McCray had to beat No. 50 Josie Kuhlman, but after winning the second set handily, she faced a 5-1 deficit in the decisive third set.
“First of all, you give Florida a lot of credit,” OSU coach Chris Young said. “They are a great program and have great coaches, so after Megan won the second set 6-2, they changed. Their girls started lifting the ball a little bit more and started getting the ball out of Megan’s strike zone. They are the defending national champions, they make errors.
“… We just talked about adjusting to that, and Megan putting more pressure on Josie and see what would happen.”
McCray found her groove, winning 14-consecutive points. She continued to close the gap until, in a blink of an eye, McCray led 6-5. Young said when McCray finds a rhythm, she is as good as any player.
She might have been inches away from losing, but McCray found comfort, stayed confident and the OSU faithful backed her up.
“I am like, ‘Just keep fighting,’” McCray said. “… Marina, she had won her match, so I was like, ‘No, I am going to win this now.’”
When her final shot bounced twice on Kuhlman’s side, the crowd erupted and players immediately swarmed McCray in celebration. Young stood near where the action happened and described how big this was for the program.
“They are the defending national champions,” Young said. “We are fortunate to get them here at home, and when you get a match like this, you need to step up and deliver. As a coach, I think you work to create these moments. … The way that your program continues to move forward is you capitalize on these moments.
“It didn’t look good there for a period of time, and we were saying a lot of prayers, asking for a miracle and we got Megan.”