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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Florida men's tennis continues home dominance in 5-2 win over Vanderbilt

<p>Gordon Watson hits an underhand volley during Florida men's tennis' 4-3 loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 31, 2015 at the Ring Tennis Complex.</p>

Gordon Watson hits an underhand volley during Florida men's tennis' 4-3 loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 31, 2015 at the Ring Tennis Complex.

The Florida men’s tennis team has been nothing short of unstoppable at home this spring, outscoring opponents 46-3 at the Ring Tennis Complex entering Friday.

The No. 11 Gators (12-4, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) continued that home dominance on against Vanderbilt, defeating the Commodores 5-2 to increase UF’s record to 8-0 when playing in Gainesville this season.

“With the crowd, there’s so much energy,” freshman Alfredo Perez said. “It’s just so intense. Everyone at every court is just going crazy, and it helps a lot.”

Friday night’s victory over Vanderbilt (12-10, 3-4 SEC) gives Florida it’s best start at home since 2010, and is the Gators’ eighth win in their past nine matches. As each weekend goes by, UF’s confidence is growing stronger as the team continues to play at an elite level.

“This team is the best that I’ve seen in my four years,” senior Gordon Watson said. “Everybody is battling no matter who they’re playing, the conditions, everybody is bringing 100 percent.”

Florida began Friday by winning two quick doubles sets to take an early 1-0 lead over Vanderbilt.

Watson and senior Diego Hidalgo knocked off Rhys Johnson and Cameron Klinger 6-3, while juniors Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin bested Baker Newman and Tate Allwardt 6-4.

The Gators then rode that momentum early on into singles play.

A 6-2, 6-3 victory by Perez over Klinger and a 6-3, 6-3 triumph by sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco over Newman gave UF a 3-0 lead.

The final four matches of the night would be much closer, with Orkin and Hidalgo both dropping their contests 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 and 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, respectively.

However, Watson and freshman McClain Kessler would both come out on top in their battles, with Watson’s 6-4, 7-5 win over Kris Yee clinching the match for Florida.

“Every win is a good win, especially in our conference,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “Our guys came ready to play and ready to compete. It wasn’t our best tennis tonight, but we’re finding ways to win even when we’re not on our game 100 percent.”

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The Gators will only have a few days to recover before they take on No. 3 Virginia on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Gainesville.

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

Gordon Watson hits an underhand volley during Florida men's tennis' 4-3 loss to Ole Miss on Jan. 31, 2015 at the Ring Tennis Complex.

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