It was another blowout home victory for the Florida men’s tennis team on Friday night.
The No. 24 Gators (8-4, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), winners of four of their last five matches, defeated the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 3-2 SEC) 6-1 at the Ring Tennis Complex, increasing their record at home to 6-0 this spring.
“We’re thrilled with tonight,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “You know, just so proud of our guys. I thought they came out and played inspired tennis. I think they realized the moment, and that this is the time for us to go on a run.”
Trotting out the same lineup for third consecutive time, the Gators dominated Arkansas, winning seven out of the eight singles and doubles matches that were played to completion. The victory over the Razorbacks also breaks Florida’s 0-4 drought this season against teams ranked in the top 15.
UF began the night with doubles competition, making quick work of the Razorbacks.
The Florida duo of juniors Elliott Orkin and Maxx Lipman knocked off Arkansas’s Jose Salazar and Adam Sanjurjo 6-2. Seniors Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson, the No. 2-ranked tandem in the country, then beat Giammarco Micolani and Mike Redlicki 6-3 to seal the doubles point to give Florida an early 1-0 lead.
“I thought we played really well in doubles,” Watson said. “Diego and I made very few errors and took it to the guys from ball one.”
Things would continue go well for the Gators in single play.
Straight set victories by freshman McClain Kessler, who defeated Johan den Toom 6-2, 6-4, and Watson, who defeated Sanjurjo 6-4, 6-3, put UF ahead of Arkansas 3-0.
Orkin then clinched the victory for Florida, winning his match over Salazar 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. The junior co-captain from Marietta, Georgia has now won the match-clinching point four times this year.
“Everyone is starting to play some of their best tennis,” Orkin said. “We’re almost in the middle of the SEC season now, so every match is going to be tough but we’re looking forward to the rest of the season. We really feel like every time we step on the court with an opponent that we’re going to win.”
The match concluded with two more singles victories for UF. Hidalgo won his match over Redlicki 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 and freshman Alfredo Perez beat Santiago Munoz 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco was the lone Gator to fall in singles, dropping his match to Micolani 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Florida will have little waiting time before they have to hit the courts again, as they are set to host No. 22 Ole Miss on Sunday at 1 p.m. A victory over the Rebels would give the Gators a 7-0 record at home, something the program has not achieved since 2013.
Elliott Orkin returns a serve during Florida's 6-1 win over Troy on Jan. 17, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex.