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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Florida tennis teams finished sweeps of the Southeastern Conference West with wins against Mississippi on Sunday.

The No. 4 women’s team (16-2, 6-0 SEC) started the day with a 6-1 win at home before the No. 6 men’s squad (13-2, 5-0 SEC) won a 4-3 decision in Oxford, Miss., that came down to the third set of the final match.

For the men, it was easily their toughest match since February’s ITA Team Indoor Championships in Charlottesville, Va.

The Gators relied on three upperclassmen and one newcomer Sunday in Oxford.

Doubles competition started with an 8-6 win by senior Daniel Cash and freshman Bob Van Overbeek on Court 3.

The two deciding sets for the doubles point went to tiebreakers. Sophomore Joey Burkhardt and freshman Sekou Bangoura Jr. came up on the short end of their tiebreaker, but junior Alexandre Lacroix and senior Antoine Benneteau came through on Court 1 to win their tiebreaker and the doubles point for Florida.

Lacroix and Benneteau were not done winning in pressure situations.

Van Overbeek put UF up 2-0 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Chris Thiemann on Court 4.

No. 6 Lacroix extended his singles winning streak to eight matches with a 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 60 Tucker Vorster on Court 1.

UF led 3-1 after Lacroix’s win, but the three active matches gave little indication as to who would win. After sophomore Nassim Slilam had his 11-match winning streak snapped and Burkhardt lost at No. 2, the pressure was on Benneteau to secure the win on Court 3.

Splitting the first two sets 6-1, 3-6, Benneteau won the third set of his match 6-3, giving the Gators the 4-3 win and keeping the team unbeaten in SEC play.

In Gainesville, the women’s match was never in doubt, but the result was just as significant.

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Due to weather concerns, the match started with singles instead of doubles.  The Gators were not fazed, winning the first four singles matches to clinch their sixth SEC victory.

The clinching singles victory came from sophomore Joanna Mather on the No. 5 court in a 6-2, 6-4 win over Mississippi’s Laura van de Stroet.

Mather has played doubles regularly this spring, but a foot injury kept her out of singles action until earlier this month.

“She’s turned the corner,” UF women’s coach Roland Thornqvist said. “You can see her athleticism, and the level of athlete that she is really helps us. With her racquet speed and rotation on the ball, it’s really difficult [to beat her].”

Vanderbilt is next on the schedule for both UF tennis teams. It will be the men’s team's second match in a row against a top-25 SEC opponent on the road. 

The women’s team will try to continue its 89-game regular season home winning streak when it hosts the No. 29 Commodores on Friday at 5 p.m.

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