Duarte Vale and McClain Kessler opened doubles play with something they were missing in their loss to Ole Miss on Friday: intensity.
From the first serve to the last, their ferocity pushed the duo to a dominant doubles win.
The No. 9 Florida men’s tennis team followed the intensity of Vale and Kessler as it cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-11, 2-6 SEC) at the Ring Tennis Complex on Sunday. The win was UF’s fourth in a row.
The No. 32-ranked team of Vale and Kessler set the pace on Court 2 with strong serves and aggressive plays at the net, defeating Jose Salazar and Alex Reco 6-3.
“I think those two really complemented themselves nicely today,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “It’s amazing, two days and a world of difference.”
On Court 1, however, issues overcame the Gators.
The No. 1-ranked duo of junior Alfredo Perez and sophomore Johannes Ingildsen fell to Arkansas junior duo Oscar Mesquida and Adam Sanjurjo to snap its seven-match win streak in doubles. The 6-3 loss was the first loss for the pair since Jan. 22.
The upset did not hinder Florida (12-6, 7-1 SEC), however, as the No. 8 pair of freshman Oliver Crawford and senior Chase Perez-Blanco clinched the doubles point for the Gators for the sixth time this season. Down 5-3, the duo fought back to win 7-5.
“When we were down, we just kept telling each other that we would get a chance to come back,” Perez-Blanco said. “We waited until the last minute, but luckily we were able to convert.”
In singles, UF came out strong. Of the six courts, UF won the first set on five of them.
Crawford and Perez-Blanco continued to stand out in singles on Sunday following victories for both players on Friday.
On Court 3, Crawford dominated Mesquida in a 6-1, 6-0 win. The freshman has now won 10 consecutive matches and is undefeated in SEC singles and doubles.
Perez-Blanco looked strong as well on Court 4. His 6-3, 6-2 victory over Reco was the Miami native’s sixth consecutive singles victory.
Freshman Andy Andrade clinched the match for Florida on Court 5 with a heavy backhand past the Razorbacks’ Pedro Alonso. Andrade was one of four UF players to win in straight sets Sunday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
After the match’s clincher, the two teams continued to play.
Kessler proved again why he belongs on the court with another solid performance.
His 7-5, 6-4 win included a back-and-forth second set that ended with a powerful overhead shot to decide it. Since being placed back into the singles lineup on Friday, Kessler has won two singles matches in a row to move to 21-8 all-time when playing on Court 6.
On Court 2, No. 11 Ingildsen avoided an upset. After dropping the second set, the sophomore handled Sanjurjo to win 10-6 in a 10-point tiebreaker.
No. 8 Perez’s frustrating day, however, continued into singles on Court 1. The junior held leads in both sets but squandered them as he lost 6-4, 6-4 to Arkansas’ Jose Salazar.
Shelton attributed Perez’s disappointing match to fatigue. The match was also filled with strong wind that, at one point, knocked off an umpire’s umbrella and nearly caused it to roll into play.
Salazar won his fifth consecutive singles match with his victory over Perez.
Absent from singles competition was Vale. After he lost his last three matches, he was taken out of the singles lineup for the first time since March 11.
The Gators will have some time off before they travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on March 30 to take on the No. 1 team in the nation, Wake Forest. First serves are set for 3 p.m.
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph, and contact him at email@example.com.
Duarte Vale and McClain Kessler helped set the pace with a doubles win in Florida's 6-1 victory over Arkansas on Sunday at the Ring Tennis Complex. “I think those two really complemented themselves nicely today,” coach Bryan Shelton said.