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Sunday, May 29, 2022
<p>Junior McClain Kessler helped win the doubles point for Florida before sweeping his opponent in singles play in the Gators' 4-3 win over Wake Forest. </p>

Junior McClain Kessler helped win the doubles point for Florida before sweeping his opponent in singles play in the Gators' 4-3 win over Wake Forest. 

The No. 10 Florida men’s tennis team handed No. 1 Wake Forest its first home loss of the season Friday with a 4-3 win in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to push the team’s win streak to five in a row.

For the second straight match in doubles, Florida (13-6, 7-1 SEC) lost on Court 1 after the No. 1-ranked doubles team of junior Alfredo Perez and sophomore Johannes Ingildsen fell 6-3.

But for the second straight match, the bottom two courts picked up the slack to win the doubles point.

The No. 8-ranked pair of freshman Oliver Crawford and senior Chase Perez-Blanco won their fourth consecutive doubles match together with a 6-2 victory over Wake’s (15-2, 7-0 ACC) doubles team of sophomore Borna Gojo and redshirt sophomore Alan Gadjiev.

With it tied up, all eyes were on Court 2 where the two teams traded points until the score was tied 6-6.

The No. 32-ranked tandem of freshman Duarte Vale and junior McClain Kessler put it away by defeating Wake’s duo of freshman Bar Botzer and junior Petros Chrysochos by one point, 10-9, in the 10-point tiebreaker to win Florida’s fifth consecutive doubles point.

Even with the doubles point secured, it was not smooth sailing in singles for the Gators.

On Court 4, Perez-Blanco in lost straight sets to Botzer 6-3, 6-2. This defeat snapped Perez-Blanco’s six-match win streak in singles.

On the top three courts, — what coach Bryan Shelton dubbed Wake Forest’s “three-headed monster” during the week — UF lost on two of them in straight sets.

No. 8 Perez lost his second straight singles match after he fell to Wake’s No. 7 Chrysochos on Court 1. With the loss, Perez moved to 5-5 in his last 10 singles matches.

However, the positives outweighed the negatives for the Gators.

Kessler, who won both of his singles matches before Sunday since being put back into the lineup March 23, swept Demon Deacons’ freshman Yuval Solomon 6-0, 6-0.

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"I just did everything that I've been doing in practice,” Kessler said in a release. “I didn't start the year off the best, but in the past few weeks, things have started to click for me.”

The junior continues to earn more playing time with his solid play.

With solid performances from Crawford and Vale on courts 3 and 5, respectively, Florida put the match away.

Vale — who had lost his last four singles matches — came through for his team with an impressive 6-4, 6-4 win.

"Great to see Duarte (Vale) come through in both doubles and singles today,” Shelton said in a release. “He was mentally tough and played his best tennis in the biggest moments."

And on Court 3, Crawford clinched the win for his team.

While Crawford struggled with Wake’s No. 30 Mansouri in the first set, stealing a 7-5 win, he dominated the second set 6-1 in the match-clinching victory.  With the win, Crawford improved his win streak in singles to 11.

"I'm really proud of our team,” Shelton said. “I believe we gained some confidence today in how we can focus and solve problems.”

This victory was the Gators’ first win over a No. 1-ranked team under coach Shelton.

Florida will have a day to bask in its big victory before it heads to Columbia, South Carolina on Sunday to take on the Gamecocks. First serves are scheduled for 1 p.m.

Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph and contact him at drudolph@alligator.org.

Junior McClain Kessler helped win the doubles point for Florida before sweeping his opponent in singles play in the Gators' 4-3 win over Wake Forest. 

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