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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Diego Hidalgo leads Gators men's tennis to 7-0 win over Kentucky

<p>Diego Hidalgo returns a serve during Florida's 6-1 win over Troy on Jan. 17, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex.</p>

Diego Hidalgo returns a serve during Florida's 6-1 win over Troy on Jan. 17, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex.

Florida men’s tennis player Diego Hidalgo has been on a roll, winning eight of his last nine singles contests entering the week.

The senior continued his impressive play on Friday night, winning both his doubles and singles matches to lead the No. 13 Gators (14-6, 9-2 Southeastern Conference) to a 7-0 victory over No. 20 Kentucky at the Ring Tennis Complex.

“Very happy for the win,” Hidalgo said. “I think we all battled. We all competed really well tonight.”

Hidalgo and doubles partner Gordon Watson set the tone early for UF, defeating Nils Ellefsen and Enzo Wallart 6-2 for the pairs’ fifth-consecutive win this season.

Hidalgo then captured the match-clinching point for Florida in singles play, knocking off UK’s William Bushamuka 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

“Diego is a tough out,” UF coach Bryan Shelton said. “When you look at his game, he can play offense, he can play defense, he moves extremely well. He just knows what to do on the court. His experience is definitely there, and he chooses the right shot at the right time.”

Hidalgo’s match clincher was set up by junior Elliott Orkin and sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco, who each made quick work of their opponents in straight sets.

Orkin bested Ellefsen 6-2, 6-4, while Perez-Blanco topped Wallart 6-2, 6-2 to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.

Watson, freshman Alfredo Perez and junior Maxx Lipman rounded out singles competition, winning close matches to finish off the shutout.

Watson took down Trey Yates 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, Perez defeated Ryotaro Matsumura 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 and Lipman beat Jake Stefanik 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Lipman played in place of injured freshman McClain Kessler, making his first appearance in the singles lineup since January 24.

“It’s been a couple months since I’ve gotten to play singles, but I really enjoy when I get the opportunity,” Lipman said. “It’s special being able to play alongside your teammates and I never take that for granted. I’m really happy obviously to get a win at the end. It was a lot of fun.”

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UF concludes its regular season on Sunday when it hosts Tennessee at 1 p.m. The Gators will then be off to Columbia, South Carolina, for the SEC Tournament, which begins on April 20.

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

Diego Hidalgo returns a serve during Florida's 6-1 win over Troy on Jan. 17, 2016, at the Ring Tennis Complex.

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