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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Riffice cruises to semifinals, Kessler and Zein drop in doubles

Junior Sam Riffice is Florida’s only remaining competitor in the individual championships

<p>Florida&#x27;s Sam Riffice returns a ball against South Florida on May 9, 2021. </p>

Florida's Sam Riffice returns a ball against South Florida on May 9, 2021.

Junior Sam Riffice advanced to the men’s singles semifinals after wins on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Riffice defeated Illinois’ Siphosothando Montsi 6-2, 6-0 on Tuesday to advance to the singles quarterfinals. The Florida captain said he felt fortunate to make it this far into the individual competition after his victory. 

Riffice’s demolition of SEC Player of Year Valentin Vacherot the next day showed the junior doesn’t need luck to compete on the national level.

Riffice overcame first set losses in both his first and second round matchups, but has since outclassed Montsi and Vacherot to the tune of straight-set victories. 

“I feel as though my game is improving with each match and I am excited for another great opportunity,” Riffice said.

He will face No. 1 Liam Draxl of Kentucky in the semifinals Thursday for a chance to play for the individual singles championship Friday.

In women’s doubles, Virginia’s Sofia Munera and Natasha Subhash defeated the final Gator duo of senior McCartney Kessler and junior Marlee Zein 6-2, 6-4 Tuesday. Kessler and Zein were unable to level the match despite a second-set comeback, and the pair bowed out of the tournament in the round of 16.

The duo concludes its season in individual play and will be remembered as Florida's most consistent doubles pairing all year. Kessler and Zein finished at 16-8 overall and reached No. 2 in the nation during a nine match winning streak in March.

Contact Ryan Zehnder at rzehnder@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder

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