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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Gators tennis picks up 4-2 win over No. 7 Virginia

Florida was able to recover from their loss in the opening round with a get-right performance against the Cavaliers

Ben Shelton during a match against TCU March 17, 2021.
Ben Shelton during a match against TCU March 17, 2021.

Last season, the Florida men’s tennis team lost just two matches as they went on to win a national championship. An opening round defeat in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships gave the Gators their second loss just weeks into the 2022 season.

The team was able to bounce back nicely with a quality win Saturday, defeating No. 7 Virginia 4-2 in the first consolation matchup.

Virginia may have come into the match with four losses already this season, but three of them were against top-5 opponents. The Cavaliers’ roster is deep and possesses a number of top players, making them a dangerous team to face. 

No. 17 Chris Rodesch, No 29. Ryan Goetz and No. 30 Inaki Montes de la Torre lead a formidable Virginia singles lineup. Additionally, Rodesch and Goetz make up the No. 8 doubles pair in the country.

In this matchup, UVA decided to split Rodesch and Goetz. This strategy did not pay off for the Cavaliers. 

Senior Sam Riffice and sophomore Ben Shelton bounced back from a doubles defeat the previous day with a 6-3 victory that included three break points saved. Goetz and his partner William Woodall got the best of Duarte Vale and Abedallah Shelbayh, boasting a dominant serving performance on their way to a 6-3 win of their own.

The Gators would come out on top in doubles, however, as the veteran pair of Mattias Siimar and Andy Andrade didn’t lose a single game or break point in a 6-2 triumph.Florida took an early 1-0 lead in the match.

UF had its hands full early in singles, as Virginia looked to claw its way back into the match.

The Cavaliers were able to tie things at one apiece as Gianni Ross swiftly took down the Gators’ Lukas Greif in two sets (6-0, 6-2). UF retook the lead with a 6-3, 6-2 triumph from Andrade over Virginia graduate student Bar Botzer. With that win, Andrade picked up his 121st career singles victory, a program record.

The Gators built upon their lead as Sam Riffice rode two aces in the second set to a two-set victory over de la Torre. Vale had plenty of chances in his match to try and clinch a victory for the Gators, but ended up scoring on just three of ten break points and lost in two sets.

Josh Goodger and Ben Shelton were the final two Gators playing, and each were heading into definitive third sets. Goodger’s serving was erratic throughout the match, as he matched five aces with five double faults. However, the formula was not sustainable and he found himself down quickly in the third set.

It would be Shelton who would close the door for the Gators. 

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Just the prior day, Shelton got dominated in a third set that ended up being the deciding match in Florida’s defeat. This time around, he was able to win an epic third set 7-5 behind three aces, securing a 4-2 win for the Gators.

The victory brings Florida to 6-2 on the season with three wins against ranked opponents. UF could have the chance to face another ranked opponent as it plays the winner of No. 9 Georgia and tournament-host Washington Sunday at either 3:30 or 6:30 p.m.

Contact Joshua Morgan at Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaMorgan37

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