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Friday, April 23, 2021

Let the dawgs out: Florida prepared for Georgia

Men’s tennis will make another homestand against Bulldogs while the women travel to Athens

<p>McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein look to increase their doubles streak to six Friday. The men’s and women’s squads prepare to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, whose teams hold a 13-3 combined record. Photo from UF-Texas A&amp;M game Feb. 28.</p>

McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein look to increase their doubles streak to six Friday. The men’s and women’s squads prepare to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, whose teams hold a 13-3 combined record. Photo from UF-Texas A&M game Feb. 28.

It may not be The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but it’s still rivalry week for Florida tennis. The men’s and women’s squads prepare to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, whose teams hold a 13-3 combined record.

Both programs are acclaimed amongst the elite. The men rank at No. 14 while the women sit comfortably with the elite at No. 3.

Men’s: No. 10 Florida (8-2) hosts No. 14 Georgia (6-2)

After a kind February that included five-consecutive wins, the Gators roll into March in hopes to spark alive.

Over the previous weekend, Florida topped two worthy opponents in LSU and Texas A&M. The close scores on the court didn’t translate to the final as the Gators shut out LSU 7-0 and toppled Texas A&M 5-2.

The Gators mark Georgia’s second top-25 matchup of the season, with their first a nervy, one-point victory from No. 14 North Carolina State. The all-time series tips in favor of the Bulldogs 64-41.

Texas A&M’s Carlos Aguilar and Bjorn Thompson snapped captains Sam Riffice and Duarte Vale’s doubles win streak. But the doubles tandem looks to grow from the past for a new opportunity-filled weekend.

Senior Andy Andrade earned SEC Co-Player of the Week while sophomore Blaise Bicknell secured SEC Newcomer of the Week. The honors are earned by the athletes who showcase their unique abilities on the courts.

But Bicknell isn’t interested in the SEC Honor or his red-hot undefeated streak. The sophomore said he only thinks about the next opponent, whoever they may be.

The first serve is set for Friday at 5 p.m. from Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. The match will live stream with stats at FloridaGators.com.

Women’s: No. 27 Florida (5-4) visits No. 3 Georgia (7-1)

The women’s team prepares to hop on the team buses after successful road trips against LSU and Texas A&M. But they can’t press the brakes yet with another elite squad hosting Florida this weekend.

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No. 27 Florida must take a step at a time as the No. 3 Bulldogs currently ride the lightning with a six-game win streak. 

No. 8 Elena Christofi and senior Katarina Jokic highlight Georgia’s line up with their doubles play. The duo shared a winning rampage in UGA’s sweep of Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Christofi and her doubles partner Morgan Coppoc claim the No. 6 spot and a four-game winning streak.

Senior McCartney Kessler, who’s on her way back to her home state, carries a four match streak. Three of the straight wins were over top-ranked foes, such as LSU’s No. 41 Taylor Bridges and Auburn’s No. 62 Selin Ovunc.

The Gators lead the all-time series over the Bulldogs with a 49-17 advantage and hold a 14-5 mark when they battle on Georgia’s turf. 

The doubles competition will begin at 4 p.m. from Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia. The action will stream live with stats on FloridaGators.com.

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

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