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Thursday, May 26, 2022
<p>Oliver Crawford</p>

Oliver Crawford

Florida is set to take on a ranked opponent for the second time this season.

It fell to No. 1 Texas on Jan. 15 in what was supposed to be an opportunity to avenge its crushing Final Four loss from a season ago.

In their second ranked matchup, the No. 2 Gators (6-1) will travel to Lake Nona, Florida, to face off against No. 21 FSU (6-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Both teams will play at the United States Tennis Association National Campus as part of the annual College MatchDay.

The Gators come into this weekend after they advanced to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Team Indoor Championship and beat USF 4-0 last weekend.

Last year, UF defeated FSU 4-1 despite the rain delay halfway through that moved the match indoors.

The Gators and Seminoles share the same loss coming into Saturday. FSU fell to Texas on the road 4-0 last Sunday, while the Gators lost 5-2 earlier this month.

UF has rebounded well, winning its last four matches since the loss.

Florida has only given up one point during this stretch. It has defeated UCF 6-1, Stetson 7-0, Temple 4-0 and USF 4-0.

“I think we learned a lot from that match (Texas),” coach Bryan Shelton said following the match Sunday. “It kind of was a great early test, and we realized that we weren’t quite where we needed to be as far as competing against one of the best teams in the country, and they were a little bit better than us on that day.

“I think we got off to a good start in that match, but we weren’t able to finish some of the things we started like some sets where we had leads and things like that.”

Florida currently has five singles players ranked in the top 75 of the ITA rankings, and one doubles pair ranked in the top 15 while FSU only has one in the top 100 with Rana-Roop Singh Bhular at No. 92.

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For the Seminoles, their matchup with UF will be the third time they've played a ranked foe. They won against then-No. 21 Mississippi State on Jan. 19 after losing to Texas.

One luxury Shelton has had this season is roster depth. For example, against Temple and USF, he was able to experiment with new lineups during singles.

He rested No. 31 Oliver Crawford on Saturday to build depth. Then, after a strong performance the day prior, Shelton decided to give freshman No. 118 Blaise Bicknell the start instead of sophomore No. 71 Lukas Greif on Court 6 Sunday.

“I just have a lot of confidence in all of our guys,” Shelton said. “It’s great as you go through the season you never know when you are going to need someone to step up, so we try to keep them all ready to go and the only way to keep them ready is to give them some opportunities to play.”

Follow Zach on Twitter @zacharyahuber and contact him at zhuber@alligator.org.

Oliver Crawford

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