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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Gators overcome Arkansas for 10th consecutive win

The winning streak continues for Florida tennis as the halfway point in conference play passes by

Senior Duarte Vale (right) and freshman Nate Bonetto (left) high-five after a score. No. 2 Florida defeated No. 55 Arkansas, 6-1
Senior Duarte Vale (right) and freshman Nate Bonetto (left) high-five after a score. No. 2 Florida defeated No. 55 Arkansas, 6-1

Despite winning its past nine matches, Florida men’s tennis ceded the top spot in the most recent ITA rankings to TCU, one of the two foes to topple the Gators this season.

However, that may have fueled Florida with extra motivation as they continue to roll through the SEC.

No. 2 Florida (15-2) continued its winning ways Friday with a 6-1 win over No. 55 Arkansas. The win streak now improves to 10 matches, and they sport a perfect 7-0 record in conference play.

The match started off in a familiar fashion, with the Gators easily claiming the doubles point, a feat that has been accomplished in each of the matches during the streak. 

No. 27 tandem Andy Andrade and Mattias Siimar picked up a swift 6-2 victory on court two to give the Gators an early advantage. Senior Sam Riffice and sophomore Ben Shelton have built recent success together, with the ITA  slating the duo at No. 11 in the newest doubles rankings. The pair clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 win over Arkansas seniors Alex Reco and Nico Rousset.

Florida freshman Nate Bonetto and senior Duarte Vale have lost just one match together this season and were up 5-2 in their dual. The doubles point had already been clinched on the neighboring courts so the double squads called it a no-contest.

The Gators quickly added onto the lead in singles. 

No. 26 Riffice faced little trouble against Rousset, winning the first set before shutting out the Razorback representative in the second set. Riffice witnessed a dramatic rise in the rankings during his own nine-match winning streak.

No. 93 Andy Andrade came firing out of the gates against sophomore Adrien Burdet and won the first set 6-0. Though Burdet managed to recover and offer a little more competition in the second, Andrade escaped to record a two-set victory and put the Gators up 3-0.

The Razorbacks were able to pocket a point on court three to extend the match, as No. 98 Vale lost in two sets to freshman Oscar Pinto Sansano. The loss was just Vale’s second in seven SEC appearances.

However, the Gators were able to finish off the match with little further drama. 

Senior Josh Goodger, who started his third consecutive match on court five in favor of Siimar, fell in the first set against sophomore Melvin Manuel but dropped just two games over the final two sets as the Wallington, England native clinched the win for the Gators.

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No. 1 Ben Shelton helped add insult to injury with a two-set win against No. 107 Reco on the center court Meanwhile, Bonetto picked up his first ranked victory with a three-set triumph over No. 67 Aleksa Bucan. 

The Gators will look to stay undefeated against SEC opponents as they take on their next challenge, facing LSU at home Friday. The first serve will be offered at 5 p.m. at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. 

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




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