Among those Gators now is Anna Danilina, the 2023 US Open Mixed Doubles Champion.
Danilina and doubles partner, Harri Heliovaara took home one of the most sought-after trophies in professional tennis this weekend, defeating No. 1-seeded Jessica Pegula and Austin Krajicek in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. The first-time mixed doubles pair got off to a quick lead in the finals, breaking Krajicek’s serve to put them ahead 2-0 in set one. The momentum continued with Danilina serving to increase the lead to 3-0 before Pegula and Krajicek got on the board at 3-1. The pair continued to dominate in the first set, before Danilina came in clutch with two volley winners at 5-2 to close it out.
The second set proved to be more of a battle for Danilina and Heliovaara, as they found themselves down 3-2 after leading the entirety of the match thus far. No stranger to a challenge, Danilina amped up her net play to get the pair back in front at 5-4 before hitting the championship-winning volley. Danilina closed out the match as if she was back at Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, with a perfectly placed out-of-reach forehand volley leaving top-ranked opponents completely stunned.
Despite only meeting a few days prior to the tournament start date, the Danilina-Heliovaara duo team didn’t drop a set in all five rounds of competition. The win for Danilina also makes her the first Kazakh to win any major in mixed doubles.
Prior to her time on tour, Danilina played at UF from 2015-2018. During her time in Gainesville, Danilina was honored as a four-time All-American, garnering the acclaim in singles and doubles during Florida’s last NCAA championship run of 2017, then again in 2018 in both singles and doubles. She also went on to make first-team All-SEC in 2018. She finished with a 97-28 record in singles and 82-22 in doubles.
Gators coach Roland Thornqvist comment: “Our hearts swell with pride watching one of our beloved alumni win her first Slam. Anna, who started as our No. 6 singles player her first year, is a prime example of what hard work and a positive attitude can do. Hopefully, this…