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Friday, May 27, 2022
<p dir="ltr"><span>Senior McClain Kessler wrapped up his fall season with a doubles loss in the Round of 16 at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Senior McClain Kessler wrapped up his fall season with a doubles loss in the Round of 16 at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic.

 

McClain Kessler had no energy left to give as he walked off Court 6 of the Carolina Tennis Center.

With his head down, Kessler was met with pats on the back from coaches and teammates after losing a match-clinching singles contest against South Carolina’s Wood Benton.

After prevailing over No. 1 Wake Forest on Friday, the No. 10 Gators fell to the Gamecocks 4-3 on Sunday in Columbia, snapping a five-match win streak.

“Have to give South Carolina a lot of credit today,” coach Bryan Shelton said in a release. “They played a great match and were well prepared for us today.”

Florida’s struggles began with doubles play.

The No. 1-ranked duo of sophomore Johannes Ingildsen and junior Alfredo Perez lost its third doubles match in a row, 6-3. In their previous two defeats, Ingildsen and Perez’s teammates picked up their slack. But on Sunday, that was not the case.

On Court 2, Kessler and freshman Duarte Vale fell to South Carolina’s senior tandem of Gabriel Friedrich and Thomas Mayronne 6-3. The loss snapped Florida’s five-match win streak in doubles competition.

UF’s frustrating play continued on into singles.

Ingildsen — who Shelton placed on Court 1 for the first time since Feb. 3 against Florida State — blew a 5-2 second-set lead in a 6-3, 7-6 loss to Friedrich.

Ingildsen's doubles partner, Perez, lost his third consecutive singles match on Court 2 in straight sets 6-4, 6-1. The junior struggled to land accurate shots with his forehand for much of the match. Of the three matches in Perez’s current losing streak, he has lost in straight sets each time.

On Courts 3, 4 and 5, however, Florida saw a glimmer of hope.

Oliver Crawford, who entered Sunday on an 11-match winning streak, continued his impressive run with another win over Gamecocks’ Yancy Dennis on Court 3. The freshman’s 6-3, 6-2 win pushed his overall singles record against SEC opponents to 9-0 on the season.

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Chase Perez-Blanco rebounded from his loss on Friday against Wake Forest to also secure a singles victory in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, on Court 4. The senior from Miami has now won seven of his last eight singles matches.  

Vale, who tied Friday’s match against Wake Forest after winning his singles contest, delivered for UF again on Sunday after he came back to win in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 against South Carolina’s Mayronne.

“It was an uphill battle, but we continued to fight back on several courts,” Shelton said.

Even with all the momentum, Florida (13-7, 7-2 SEC) still fell short.

Kessler’s 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 singles loss on Court 6 was his first since his March 21 return to the lineup.

The captain faced multiple controversial calls throughout the match, including one in the third set that caused him to throw down his hat and yell at the umpire.

His defeat snapped UF’s four-match win streak over the Gamecocks (15-6, 5-4 SEC) dating back to the 2012-13 season.

The Gators will have time to recover before they head back on the road on Friday. The team will travel to College Station to play No. 6 Texas A&M. First serves are set for 6 p.m.

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

Senior McClain Kessler wrapped up his fall season with a doubles loss in the Round of 16 at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic.

 

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