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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Gators men's tennis looking forward to SEC Tournament

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

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

The Florida men’s tennis team has aspired to win the Southeastern Conference Tournament since day one of the regular season.

Now, after enduring a long, 21-match schedule that saw them earn their best record in conference play since 2010, the time to fulfill that aspiration has finally arrived for the No. 11 Gators (15-6, 10-2 SEC).

UF kicks off postseason competition this Friday at 10 a.m. in Columbia, South Carolina, where it will face either Vanderbilt or LSU in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.

Florida is slotted as the No. 2 seed in the bracket, and is looking to earn its first conference championship since 2011.

“We’re very excited,” junior co-captain Elliott Orkin said. “We weren’t able to get the regular season championship, but now we’re going into postseason. All of the best teams in the SEC are going to be there.”

The Gators were dominant in conference play this spring, outscoring opponents 61-23.

The trio of freshman Alfredo Perez and seniors Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson carried Florida in SEC singles play, with each player going 10-2.

In doubles, UF was consistent at each spot in the lineup, with all three of its pairs winning at least 70 percent of its sets.

The Gators two conference losses this year came at the hands of Texas A&M on March 6 and Georgia on April 8. Barring any early-round upsets, Florida is currently setup to face the Aggies in the semifinals of the tournament, and the Bulldogs in the championship match.

“We’re looking forward to possibly getting some revenge on some teams we lost to earlier in the season,” Orkin said. “So we’re going to go there, we’re confident and we’re very determined. We want to come back to Gainesville with a ring and with an SEC title.”

Play at the Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia begins today at 10 a.m. when the No. 12-seeded Auburn Tigers face the No. 13-seeded Tennessee Volunteers.

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

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

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