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Sunday, June 23, 2024
Oliver Crawford
Oliver Crawford

Florida junior Oliver Crawford had just earned match point and held a 5-4 lead over Auburn’s Tim Dollman after taking the first set.

Dollman hit a shot to the left, trying to stave off elimination.

Crawford chased down his shot until he slipped, crashing hard into the fence.

He slowly rose from the concrete, walking behind the padded area guarding the complex lights for several moments to regather himself.

The fans in attendance fell silent.

Then, Crawford re-emerged.

He was in the midst of a long rally until he finally hit a backhand, freezing Dollman because he thought Crawford’s shot was wide.

But his shot stayed in bounds.

Match victory, Crawford.

He then turned to the Florida crowd, let out a loud yell, completed a huge fist pump and celebrated his victory that pushed Florida’s lead to 3-0 over the Tigers.

On Sunday afternoon, No. 6 UF (14-2, 2-0) swept Auburn (9-8, 0-2) and Mercer (3-10) 7-0 at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

Florida starts SEC play 2-0 against Auburn

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In doubles, No. 33 senior Johannes Ingildsen and freshman Will Grant for Florida defeated Auburn’s Tyler Stice and Tim Dollman 6-3.

Next, No. 14 Crawford and sophomore Sam Riffice knocked off Auburn’s Tom Wright and Finn Murgett by the same score, giving the Gators the 1-0 lead heading into singles.

Florida continued its strong start in singles.

No. 21 junior Duarte Vale was the only UF player to lose in the first set. He lost to Wright 6-2.

In the second set, Vale surged back to stay alive, forcing a decisive third set after a 6-1 second-set victory.

Then, Greif was the first player to win his match in singles. He dominated in the second set to win 6-3, 6-0 to hand the orange and blue a 2-0 lead.

Following Greif’s win, Crawford finished off Dollman in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

Riffice, seconds later, surmounted Stice, defeating him 6-4, 6-1. His win secured the match victory for Florida, which led 4-0 with three courts to play.

Andrade was the next UF player to finish after he triumphed over Gray 6-2, 6-4.

On Court 5, Goodger prevailed against Murgett, following a close first set 7-6, 6-2.

Finally, Vale completed the comeback, grabbing the final two sets to win out 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 versus Wright.

UF sweeps Mercer in dominating fashion

The Gators began the match strong, dominating the Bears in doubles.

Because Mercer was unranked and it was Florida’s second match of the day, Shelton elected to rest his best duo — Crawford and Riffice. In singles, he rested Vale, Goodger and Andrade to give the rest of his roster experience.

Ingildsen and Grant defeated Mercer’s duo Oliver Stuart and Hugo Lobo 6-2 on Court 1.

Then, on Court 3, Andrade and Greif beat Carver Arant and Lucas Wayenburg 6-1.

Florida continued its strong play in singles, grabbing the first set on all six courts.

No. 90 freshman Blaise Bicknell won in singles versus Mercer first. He knocked off Arant 6-1, 6-2.

Next, Ingildsen beat Stathis Tsirandis 6-2, 6-1. He pushed the Gators lead to 3-0.

Grant followed Ingildsen, defeating David Georgadze 6-3, 6-4 in straight sets and clinching the match for UF.

A few moments later, Florida junior Brian Berdusco closed out Wayenburg 6-2, 6-4.

On Court 1, Crawford won out over Stuart 6-1, 6-3.

Finally, Riffice beat Lobo 6-4, 6-3, sealing the second sweep for Florida on the day.

Next weekend, the Gators will head on the road to face No. 38 LSU at 6 p.m. EST and No. 13 Texas A&M Sunday at 2 p.m. EST.

“It's gonna be a fun weekend on the road, so we'll get a day off tomorrow and recharge a little bit,” Shelton said. “They can put their feet up, especially, now it's spring break, and they don't have academic demands. But then we gotta have a good practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and then we'll hit the road Thursday….It's going to be tough road matches, but I think our guys are really looking forward to (it).”

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

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