As fans filed out of the Ring Tennis Complex on Friday for the last time this season, senior Chase Perez-Blanco, along with fellow seniors Jordan Belga and Josh Wardell, stayed on the court.
With their arms wrapped around each other, the three teammates looked up at the scoreboard that read 7-0 over Alabama and reflected on their careers at the University of Florida.
Senior Chase Perez-Blanco held back tears after the Gators’ final regular season match as he…
“During the match, I tried not to think about it too much,” Perez-Blanco said. “I knew the nerves would come in, and I would get in my own head.”
Even though postseason play is right around the corner, the senior knew what Friday’s match against the Crimson Tide meant: It was the last time he would play in the Ring Tennis Complex as a Gator.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Perez-Blanco said. “It’s just been the best four years.”
No one can blame him for not wanting to change anything about his career. From the start, the team knew he was something special.
Perez-Blanco was exceptional his freshman year, sporting a 25-11 overall singles record and winning two SEC Freshman of the Week honors along with being named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
As a sophomore, he won a career-high 16 dual matches and 30 overall singles victories.
Perez-Blanco has continued to improve every year at UF, and it culminated in a top-10 winningest career at the school.
With the dramatic 2-6, 7-6, 10-7 win on Friday over Alabama’s Edson Ortiz, the Miami native won his 91st career singles match. Perez-Blanco is now only three wins away from ninth on the all-time list.
“We’ve had some great players walk through these doors,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “For (Perez-Blanco) to be among them, it really shows how much he has accomplished here.”
The senior also has 180 career wins in singles and doubles combined, which ranks eighth all-time. He is one win away from moving into a tie for sixth all-time with former Gators Elliott Orkin and Greg Ouellette.
With his doubles partner, freshman Oliver Crawford, that mark isn’t far out of reach. The two players have won their last six doubles matches together, with the previous two in dramatic, come-from-behind duels to clinch the doubles point for Florida.
Shelton said that Perez-Blanco has come into his role as a vocal leader for the team, and his confidence on the court is a big reason why he can come back in matches the way that he does.
The senior will have more chances to climb the ladder when the Gators return to play on April 27 for the SEC Tournament.