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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Shelton extended his win streak and shut down Wedenmann’s career-long 23 match win streak Sunday. Photo from UF-Auburn game Feb. 21.
Shelton extended his win streak and shut down Wedenmann’s career-long 23 match win streak Sunday. Photo from UF-Auburn game Feb. 21.

Freshman Ben Shelton sat on the bench after Tennessee's Luca Wedenmann paved the way in a 6-0 first set blowout. During the intermission, assistant coach Scott Perelman approached Shelton.

“You got this guy,” Perelman exclaimed. “You’re still on top of him. Let’s get it right here.”

Shelton took the words to heart. With his chin up, Shelton stole five straight games to turn the tide and forced the match into a third set. It came down to a 40-30 match point, and Shelton prepared to celebrate.

Wedenmann struck the ball and tapped just beyond the playline. The umpire called the dual as Shelton yelled a final war cry. The freshman turned toward the audience and Gator chomped.

Men’s: No. 10 Florida toasts No. 3 Tennessee 5-2

Shelton’s three-set triumph symbolized a cherry on top of the Gators’ upset over top-ranked Tennessee. The Gainesville native extended his win streak and shut down Wedenmann’s career-long 23 match win streak. 

No. 68 Blaise Bicknell made easy work of his eighth opponent and retained his perfect duals record. The sophomore exploited his opponent Giles Hussey’s weakness —  his energy.

“Naturally, people don’t love playing me because they know they’re gonna have to run,” Bicknell said. “Just gotta keep the energy going.”

The Gators’ doubles performance clinched a doubles point advantage, something the team always eagerly snags.

Bicknell watched Shelton and senior Andy Andrade battle against Hussey and senior Mark Wallner. Once Andrade and Shelton sealed the deal, Bicknell and fellow teammates stormed the court as The Orange and Blue echoed through the speaker system.

The Gators fell short through team captains Duarte Vale and Sam Riffice’s doubles effort. Vale made up for it with a stellar single’s performance against No. 24 Adam Walton. The two went racket-for-racket in three sets for two hours.

The team will take a day off until they hit the practice court Tuesday. They will prepare for a two-game journey through the state of Mississippi.  

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Women’s: No. 21 Tennessee tops No. 27 Florida 4-2

While the score in Knoxville wavered, the Volunteers' early double point advantage haunted Florida. 

No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein extended their doubles win streak to six. The win almost slipped out of Zein’s and Kessler’s hands. 

The couple claimed the first game but started to slip following several clever shots from junior Daria Kuczer and freshman Esther Adeshina. The score continued to seesaw until it boiled down to the 5-5 tiebreak. The teams traded serves until the final deuce — and Zein and Kessler’s 6-5 lead. 

On the backline, Kessler served a perfect ball that returned. A few volleys later, Adeshina placed it outside the lines.

Kessler and Zein also thrived in their singles category. Zein kept up to outlast No. 118 Carly Briggs in three sets (7-6 (7-3), 6-4) while Kessler took care of freshman Elenora Molinaro (6-2, 7-5).

The Gators will return home to prepare for a weekend stance against Missouri March 12 and Arkansas March 14.

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352



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