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Friday, April 12, 2024
<p>Sam Riffice against USF on May 9, 2021. The Gators shut out South Carolina Friday, 6-0.</p>

Sam Riffice against USF on May 9, 2021. The Gators shut out South Carolina Friday, 6-0.

The Florida men’s tennis team faces a familiar foe in Texas A&M in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. 

Florida is 2-0 against the Aggies on the year, including a narrow victory in the SEC tournament semifinal. The Gators split the doubles point against A&M in their two duels, winning in the regular season and losing in the SEC tournament.

The Gators are 8-4 against the Aggies in singles on the season. Senior Duarte Vale occupied court one in both matches and is 0-2 against A&M’s top seed. 

Vale is the only key Florida player to struggle against the Aggies this season. Sophomore Blaise Bicknell and senior Josh Goodger both remain undefeated in singles play heading into the Elite Eight. 

After two surprise exclusions to start the NCAA tournament, Bicknell returned to the singles lineup against Illinois and won his match in straight sets to earn Florida’s fourth point in a dominant 4-0 win.

The possibility of a 2019 Final Four rematch between Florida and Texas remains on the table, as the winner between the Gators and Aggies will face the winner of Texas and Southern California. 

The dream of winning the national title looms large, but head coach Bryan Shelton stays firmly focused on the task at hand. 

“We know them very well. They know us. Every time we play those guys it's a battle,” Shelton said. “We know we'll have our work cut out for us, but I like my guys. I like my guys a lot."

The match will be televised live on the Tennis Channel. Be sure to check floridagators.com for live updates and statistics from Thursday’s match.

Contact Ryan Zehnder at rzehnder@ufl.edu and follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder


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