Freshman Bob Van Overbeek and senior Antoine Benneteau took the pressure off each other in a tight match against Georgia on Sunday to give their coach Andy Jackson his 100th win at home during his UF tenure.
After the No. 6 Gators (16-3, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) got down early, they needed Van Overbeek and Benneteau to win their singles matches to avoid their second loss of the weekend.
Van Overbeek finished off his opponent not long after Benneteau won a momentum-building tiebreaker early in his match, clinching UF’s 5-2 win over No. 8 Georgia (17-5, 9-1 SEC) in Gainesville.
“Antoine winning his first-set tiebreaker was huge,” Jackson said. “That helped take the pressure off Bob’s shoulders. That’s team tennis.”
The Gators dropped doubles matches on courts Nos. 1 and 2, both in 8-6 decisions, to trail 1-0 heading into singles play — the same way Friday’s 4-3 loss to Tennessee started.
In singles, victories by sophomore Nassim Slilam, No. 7 junior Alexandre Lacroix and freshman Sekou Bangoura Jr. put Florida ahead 3-1.
Benneteau, Van Overbeek and sophomore Joey Burkhardt were the three Gators left trying to win the fourth point and secure the victory for UF.
After dropping the first set 6-2, Van Overbeek bounced back to win the second set 7-6 after a tiebreaker.
By the time Van Overbeek’s match entered its third set, his teammates gathered on the court to cheer him on, with Slilam frequently motioning to the crowd to make noise for Van Overbeek.
When Van Overbeek won the third set 6-4 and clinched the victory, he was mobbed by his teammates who were excited to celebrate the win over UF’s biggest rival.
“I looked around and saw Joey was in a tough match and Antoine’s was close,” Van Overbeek said. “I knew I wanted to win it for the team.”
Benneteau went on to win his match in three sets, making the final score 5-2 in Florida’s favor.
The No. 4 Gators women’s tennis team (20-2, 10-0 SEC) had a much easier time against No. 14 Georgia (11-5, 8-2 SEC) in Athens.
The 6-1 win that clinched the regular-season SEC crown for the Gators started with a sweep of doubles competition.
In singles, Florida won the first five matches to go up 6-0. Georgia won the last match on court No. 5.
Highlights for UF included an upset win at court No. 1. No. 14 freshman Lauren Embree defeated No. 10 Chelsey Gullickson 7-5, 6-4.
Florida’s other freshman sensation, No. 9 Allie Will, remains undefeated this season with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No. 29 Nadja Gilchrist.