After a month of indoor play, the Florida men's tennis team is ready to get back outside and welcome No. 17 Georgia and No. 25 Tennessee to Gainesville. The Gators and Bulldogs will continue their annual rivalry today at 6 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex. Tennessee will follow on Sunday at 1 p.m.
After being swept in two of their three matches played in Seattle for the ITA Indoor Championships two weeks ago, the Gators (5-4) are looking to reset and come back stronger heading into SEC play.
“We didn’t perform as well as we wanted to in Seattle,” coach Bryan Shelton said, “but we are looking at this as a whole new season.”
The Gators have played through a challenging schedule up to this point, and it does not get any easier. The matchups against the Bulldogs (6-2) and the Volunteers (10-2) will mark the seventh and eighth straight match against a ranked team dating back to Feb. 3. In that span, UF has a record of 2-4.
The central reason for Florida’s subpar performances is its doubles play, as the Gators have lost the doubles point in four consecutive matches.
Georgia poses a considerable threat in that area.
The No. 12-ranked duo of Jan Zielinski and Robert Loeb lead the way for the Bulldogs. The pair has played in every match together this season and is 3-2 against ranked opponents.
This matchup will be indicative of how much Florida has improved in doubles since struggling in Seattle two weeks ago.
Consistency in singles play is also a concern for Florida, especially from its top courts. When junior No. 9 Alfredo Perez and sophomore No. 10 Johannes Ingildsen win their matches on courts one and two, respectively, Florida is undefeated.
The Gators did not see this consistency in Seattle, however, as Perez and Ingildsen lost their singles matchups on two of the three days, resulting in the team losing both contests.
Georgia’s roster features five ranked players in singles, including No. 11 Wayne Montgomery and No. 19 Walker Duncan. Tennessee’s No. 25-ranked Timo Stodder could be a threat as well this weekend.
With the Bulldogs winning both matches last year against the Gators, players like Perez and junior McClain Kessler are looking forward to a chance for redemption.
“We’re not close friends,” Kessler said. “There’s no love lost between us and them.”
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph and contact him at email@example.com.
Sophomore Johannes Ingildsen returned to the lineup to team up with junior Alfredo Perez.