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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Florida continues to roll with shutout win over Mississippi State

The Gators win streak improves to nine after recording their sixth shutout of the season

Sophomore Ben Shelton awaits a serve against Ole Miss Friday.
Sophomore Ben Shelton awaits a serve against Ole Miss Friday.

Sophomore Ben Shelton had won eight consecutive matches in his rise to the top of the individual rankings and looked to be in position to make it nine after cruising through the first set against No. 25 Florida Broska. 

Shelton was serving with a 5-4 lead and had three opportunities at match point.

In an uncharacteristic fashion, Shelton lost the next two points and ended up double-faulting to lose the game. However, he gave himself another chance to serve for the match after scoring a break on Broska.

After losing two of the first three points, this time Shelton’s serve didn’t let him down. He ripped off an incredible three-consecutive aces to put away the match.

No. 1 Florida (14-2) continued its march through the SEC schedule with another convincing performance Sunday, scoring a 7-0 shutout against No. 28 Mississippi State (11-8). With the win, the Gators have now dropped just one combined point in their three most recent matches, as the team’s winning streak improved to nine games.

The Gators once again managed to claim the doubles point, a feat that has become an expectation recently. 

Freshman Nate Bonetto and senior Duarte Vale were tied at 3-3 with Bulldogs pair Alberto Colas and Carlos Hernandez, but won the next three games to give Florida the early advantage. 

Shelton and senior Sam Riffice faced the opposite fortune against Broska and senior Gregor Ramskogler, as Mississippi State was able to break Riffice to go up 4-3 before taking the last two games to tie the doubles score.

It would come down to No. 54 Andy Andrade and Mattias Siimar, who traded serves with the No. 65 pairing of Nemanja Malesevic and Davide Tortora all the way to a 5-5 score. The Gators duo would record the first break of the match to put them up 6-5, and then Siimar served four consecutive victorious points for the Gators as they took the doubles point. 

In singles, No. 109 Vale quickly dispatched sophomore Carles Hernandez, giving the Gators a 2-0 match lead with a 6-3, 6-0 victory. Shelton then put the Gators one-point away after his triumph over Broska.

With UF holding a commanding lead and being in a comfortable position in each of its other matches, No.93 Andy Andrade won his final three games to defeat Ramskogler and lift the Gators to their 14th win of the season. 

Florida didn’t stop there. 

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Junior Will Grant made just his second singles appearance of the year and beat Tortura in two sets. Senior Josh Goodger also got the nod on court five over Siimar, and bounced back after dropping the first set against Colas and ended up winning 10-7 in a third-set tiebreaker. Senior Sam Riffice completed the shutout with a 7-5, 6-4 win on court two against Malesevich.

The Gators continue to roll so far in conference play, as they now hold a 6-0 record and sit alone at the top of the SEC as the last undefeated team. Their next opportunity to improve upon that record will come Friday as the team travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to play against the Razorbacks. The match with Arkansas will begin at 5 p.m.

Contact Joshua Morgan at jmorgan2@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaMorgan37



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