Like he’d done all day, junior Alfredo Perez sent a powerful forehand over the net that his opponent could not handle. One last stretch, but it was out of reach.
With one swing, Perez sent his team to the round of 16 for the third year in a row.
The Florida Gators stepped onto a blazing court that registered up to 100 degrees and into t…
The Florida men’s tennis team swept the Miami Hurricanes 4-0 in the last match played at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville this season to advance to the Round of 16.
The Gators (18-9) started strong in doubles due to hard serves on all three courts that the young Miami team (15-13) could not handle.
After a strong performance in the first round against South Carolina State, where the duo shutout its opponent, junior McClain Kessler and freshman Duarte Vale maintained their form to top Miami’s tandem of Nile Clark and Pablo Aycart 6-2 on Court 3.
The No. 5-ranked duo of junior Alfredo Perez and sophomore Johannes Ingildsen secured the doubles point for UF on Court 1 with a 6-4 win over the Hurricanes’ pair of Adria Soriano and Christian Langmo.
With their second straight doubles point, the Gators entered singles play with another lead and more confidence.
As the clouds rolled over and the rain began to drizzle onto the courts, McClain Kessler won his fifth straight match dating back to the regular season. The team captain attributed his win streak to preparation both from the coaches and from himself.
“I’ve been more focused in practice,” Kessler said. “I’m doing the things I need to do to help my game and improve.”
His 6-1, 6-2 over Clark on Court 6 was due to his strong serves and quick feet on the returns.
Senior Chase Perez-Blanco followed that up with a 6-2, 6-1 win on Court 5 over Niclas Genovese. The senior trailed for a single point in the dominant win to give his team its third point of the match. The victory was Perez-Blanco’s 184th career combined win in both singles and doubles, which is sixth all-time at the University of Florida.
On Court 3, Perez pumped his fist after the last point in his 6-4, 6-3 win over Miami’s Bojan Jankulovski on Court 3.
“You work all year, and it’s not just for these moments,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “But these moments are special, and they’re exciting.”
Shelton credited the team’s confidence in doubles as a big reason for the success in the first two rounds, noting that the young players have seen the ball much better and have become more comfortable with the speed of play in the NCAA Tournament.
The match saw three courts go unfinished. Ingildsen led in his match 0-6, 6-1, 3-1 on Court 3. Freshman Andy Andrade also led in his match on Court 4 6-4, 5-3 while Crawford was tied after he dropped the first set 2-6, 6-6.
Florida now awaits the winner of the Stanford-Ole Miss matchup. The teams will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to compete in the Round of 16 on the campus of Wake Forest on May 18.
While the Gators have been here before — four of their last five years — they know it is not good enough to just make it.
“I want to go further,” Kessler said. “I think this team can make a huge run in Wake Forest.”
You can follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph or contact him at [email protected].