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Sunday, May 29, 2022
<p>Freshman Oliver Crawford clinched the match for the Gators on Sunday and extended his unbeaten streak to seven consecutive singles matches to begin his career.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman Oliver Crawford clinched the match for the Gators on Sunday and extended his unbeaten streak to seven consecutive singles matches to begin his career. 

Over a thousand swings were taken in Sunday’s match, but for Florida, it came down to just one during the last singles match of the day.

Freshman Oliver Crawford’s strong forehand past Vanderbilt’s Baker Newman stopped the comeback and won the match for the Gators. As soon as he swung, Crawford threw off his hat, pounded his chest and jumped into the arms of his teammates as the savior once again.

The Florida men’s tennis team (10-6, 5-1 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt (14-3, 4-1 SEC) 4-3 in Nashville after it squandered a 3-1 lead.

The crowd in Nashville was just getting to its seats as the No. 10 tandem of senior Chase Perez-Blanco and Crawford was finishing up its set on Court 3. The pair set the pace as it dominated Vanderbilt’s senior duo Baker Newman and Daniel Valent 6-0.

The No. 12 pairing of junior McClain Kessler and freshman Duarte Vale followed closely behind on Court 2. The duo traded points with Commodore sophomore Panu Virtanen and senior Lachlan McPhee on its way to a 7-5 victory to clinch the doubles point for Florida.

In singles, the Gators continued their energetic play after UF players on four of the six courts won their first set.

No. 7 junior Alfredo Perez won convincingly 6-4, 6-0 on Court 1. Perez-Blanco continued his outstanding play on Court 6 after winning in straight sets as well for the fourth consecutive match.

His 6-4, 6-2 victory was Perez-Blanco’s 86th career singles win which tied him for 10th in program history with Mike Alford (2011-14).

"I was aware that I was getting close to top 10,” Perez-Blanco said in a release. “Every win as a Gator means so much to me because I play with these guys and our team.”

With Florida up 3-1, the lead began to disappear after No. 6 sophomore Johannes Ingildsen and freshman Andy Andrade lost in straight sets on courts two and five, respectively.

Ingildsen’s 6-3, 7-6 loss to Vanderbilt’s No. 79 Valent was his first loss in singles since March 9 against Mississippi State.

On Court 4, Vale looked to be in control after he won his first set and jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second. However, the Portugal native blew his lead and lost in the third set to allow Vanderbilt to tie the match at 3-3.

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Crawford’s 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win was his second match-clincher in a row and his fourth of the season. The freshman remains perfect in singles play against SEC opponents (7-0) as well.

Crawford’s win also snapped a 10-match win streak for the Commodores and was the team’s first conference loss of the season.

After it played in four matches in seven days, UF will finally have some time to rest before it welcomes Ole Miss to the Ring Tennis Complex on March 23. The match is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

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

Freshman Oliver Crawford clinched the match for the Gators on Sunday and extended his unbeaten streak to seven consecutive singles matches to begin his career. 

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