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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the Florida tennis teams’ win columns. Both the men’s and women’s teams were successful in the Lone Star State last weekend.

The players did not compete as a team, but rather were sent individually to represent UF. Both had four combined players competing in the Texas Tamale Co. Houston Cup and the W15 Lubbock to compete.

After claiming the doubles title in Florida’s first tournament at the Seahawk Invite last week, Oliver Crawford and Sam Riffice continued the trend in Houston. The No. 49 ranked duo won all four of its matches in the weeklong tournament, ending it with the tournament’s doubles title in the tandem’s first match of the season.

Riffice and Crawford snatched the title in the final match from former UCLA and Tennessee graduates Austin Rapp and Preston Touliatos, respectively. 

The Florida duo cruised its way through the first three matches, but struggled early in the title match. Riffice and Crawford managed to take the first set by two games before quickly dropping the second set 6-3. 

With a winner-takes-all tiebreaker for the title, Riffice and Crawford stepped up and defeated Rapp and Touliatos 10-3, claiming Florida’s second doubles title in as many tournaments.

“It was a very competitive match and, in the third set tiebreaker,” volunteer assistant coach Scott Perelman said in a release. “The Gators played championship tennis.”

McCartney Kessler and Victoria Emma also represented the Gators in Lubbock, Texas, last week. Kessler’s tournament started three days earlier than Emma (who earned an automatic qualification), needing to win her way towards the main draw.

Kessler had no trouble qualifying, though, dropping just one set in her first four matches to advance farther than Emma.

The junior from Naples, Florida, withdrew due to injury, giving St. Johns’ Jessica Livianu the win via walkover. As the last Gator standing entering the quarterfinal round, Kessler faced a difficult opponent in reigning Big South Player of the Year Lauren Proctor. Her dominance, which included winning seven-straight sets and going a perfect 3-0 in tiebreakers, came to an end in the round of eight. The two-time All-SEC talent won the first set but dropped the final two sets to Proctor, concluding her tournament with five wins

Follow Victor Prieto on Twitter @victorprieto_11. Contact him at

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