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Thursday, July 07, 2022
The No. 2 Gators kept their flame ablaze since the postponement with 10 consecutive wins and a perfect home record (8-0).Photo from UF-TCU March 17.
The No. 2 Gators kept their flame ablaze since the postponement with 10 consecutive wins and a perfect home record (8-0).Photo from UF-TCU March 17.

Two bitter in-state foes will battle it out on the court and earn bragging rights for another year.

The Gators and FSU Seminoles were supposed to meet face-to-face in Tallahassee Jan. 31. But the match was postponed the night before due to COVID-19 protocols within the program. Nearly two months later,  both programs’ records diverted  in opposite directions.

Below average season for FSU (5-10)

The unranked Seminoles were off to a hot start in 2021 after a three-match win streak over North Florida, Mercer and South Alabama. But like a house of cards, one loss shut-out loss to Georgia brought the structure to a crumble and the Noles haven’t rebuilt since.

Florida State only claims two victories in their last 11 matchups and remains winless against ACC opponents. FSU tomahawked Tennessee Tech in their doubleheader Feb. 26.

Overall, the Noles’ singles and doubles play hasn’t lived up to  what the program usually boasts. Their win percentage  slightly exceeds.400 since the duos stand at 16-22 and singles 36-41.

Another Florida sweep?

A force to be reckoned with, the No. 2 Gators kept their flame ablaze since the postponement with 10 consecutive wins and a perfect home record (8-0).

So far in the post-pandemic campaign, the Gators swept four opponents with three of them being ranked among the top 25 — No. 6 Texas Christian, No. 24 Miss State and No. 14 Georgia

While the doubles teetered through most of the season, the singles roster has consistently pulled their weight and came up clutch for every win. The only time Florida fell behind in both categories was the lone 3-4 loss to the Texas Longhorns Jan. 23.

But even in the loss, No. 68 Blaise Bicknell pulled tricks from up his sleeve and outsprinted the opponent to add on to a remarkable undefeated streak that tracks back to the 2020 season.

Team captain Sam Riffice is fresh off a two-set (6-1, 6-3) victory over No. 21 Alastair Gray from TCU. That same day, he was rewarded with the title of SEC Co-Player of the Week.

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Where to watch

The first serve of doubles play from Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex will fly Sunday, at 2 p.m. The action will live stream with stats on FloridaGators.com.

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

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