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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

UF men’s tennis loses 4-3 to Texas A&M on the road

<p>Chase Perez-Blanco had an emotion-filled evening as he was one of three seniors honored at Florida's Senior Day match against Alabama. He won his singles set and helped set the tone for a sweep of the Crimson Tide on Friday. </p>

Chase Perez-Blanco had an emotion-filled evening as he was one of three seniors honored at Florida's Senior Day match against Alabama. He won his singles set and helped set the tone for a sweep of the Crimson Tide on Friday. 

The Florida men’s tennis team entered this weekend 0-3 in dual matches that came down to a decisive singles point, losing close battles to Texas Tech, Southern California and Ohio State earlier this spring.

The Gators (6-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) failed to convert in that situation again Sunday afternoon, falling on the road to No. 8 Texas A&M (13-3, 2-0 SEC) 4-3 in a gut-wrenching loss that came down to a third-set tiebreaker in the final singles match of the day.

Florida got off to a good start against the Aggies, winning the doubles point against a top-10 ranked team for the first time this season.

Seniors Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson ended their three-match losing streak, defeating TAMU’s Arthur Rinderknech and Jackson Withrow 6-1 in an easy victory for the No. 1-ranked tandem in the country.

Freshman Alfredo Perez and sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco then sealed the doubles point for UF, knocking off Jordi Arconada and AJ Catanzariti 6-3 to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.

The Gators then transitioned over to singles play, trotting out the same six-man lineup for the fifth consecutive match.

Florida performed well in singles competition two days prior in its victory over LSU, but was unable to play with that same consistency against the Aggies.

Watson was the only Gator to win the first set of his match, with his five teammates all putting themselves in early deficits.

Perez-Blanco and freshman McClain Kessler dropped their second sets as well, losing to Arconada 6-4, 6-1 and Withrow 7-6, 6-2, respectively.

Watson then won his second set to defeat Catanzariti 6-4, 6-4, knotting the score between Florida and Texas A&M at 2-2.

Perez would be the next Gator to finish his match, completing an impressive 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback against Adams to tilt the score back in UF’s favor.

That left Florida’s two captains, Hidalgo and Orkin, with an opportunity to clinch the victory for the Gators.

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Playing on Court 1, Hidalgo fought a three-set thriller with Rinderknech, ultimately falling 6-1, 6-7, 7-5 to tie the score back up at 3-3.

It was then all down to Orkin.

After winning a 20-point-long tiebreaker to tie the matchup at one set apiece, Orkin would blow a 3-1 lead in the third and final set. Vinsant came back to win six of the final nine games, sealing the victory for the Aggies and sending Florida home in defeat.

The Gators have now lost four straight to Texas A&M, and are winless all time at the Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station.

UF will move on to face the Auburn Tigers this Friday at 5 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville. The Gators are undefeated at home this spring.

Contact Dylan Dixon at ddixon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon

Chase Perez-Blanco had an emotion-filled evening as he was one of three seniors honored at Florida's Senior Day match against Alabama. He won his singles set and helped set the tone for a sweep of the Crimson Tide on Friday. 

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