The Florida men’s tennis team has not missed a beat against Alabama over the past eight years.
From 2009-2015, UF went 8-0 against the Crimson Tide in dual-match competition, outscoring them 40-10 over that span.
The No. 16 Gators (11-4, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) renewed that dominance against Alabama on Sunday afternoon, knocking off the No. 41 Crimson Tide 5-2 at the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility in Tuscaloosa for Florida’s seventh win in its past eight matches.
"I am proud of our guys to finish off this weekend in Gator fashion," coach Bryan Shelton said in a release. "I like the way we compete and value each point … I believe our guys handled playing indoors very well and we answered the questions that Alabama presented."
While it would finish the day strong, UF found itself in another early deficit after the Gators were unable to win the doubles point for the second consecutive match.
Juniors Elliott Orkin and Maxx Lipman rebounded from their poor showing on Friday night against Mississippi State, defeating Alabama’s Grayson Goldin and Becker O’Shaughnessey 6-3.
Florida’s seniors Gordon Watson and Diego Hidalgo were then bested by Korey Lovett and Mazen Osama 7-5 in a hard-fought set, leaving it up to Florida sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco and freshman Alfredo Perez to defeat the Crimson Tide’s Spencer Richey and Matthew Rossouw.
The two duos were evenly matched throughout the set, eventually needing a tiebreaker to determine the winner after the first twelve games were split 6-6.
Richey and Rossouw ultimately came out on top, winning the tiebreaker game 7-5 and giving Alabama an early 1-0 lead.
UF regrouped in singles play, though, securing five of the six singles matches to defeat the Crimson Tide (13-9, 4-4 SEC) for the ninth year in a row.
Florida’s Watson was the first Gator to finish his match, making quick work of Goldin in a 6-4, 6-0 triumph.
Hidalgo would soon follow, beating Alabama’s top singles player Osama 6-2, 6-3 to take back the lead for UF.
Perez and Perez-Blanco then clinched the victory for Florida, knocking off O’Shaughnessey 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 and Richey 6-4, 6-2, respectively, to secure the Gators' fifth-straight win.
UF’s strong play of late has vaulted it into second place in the SEC standings. The last time Florida won the regular season SEC title was 2005, when it shared it with Ole Miss.
The Gators return home to face Vanderbilt at 5 p.m. Friday at the Ring Tennis Complex.
Alfredo Perez returns a ball during Florida's 6-1 win over Troy on Jan. 17, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex.