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Monday, December 04, 2023

Gators clinch SEC regular-season title with win over Auburn

Florida is now one match shy of a perfect SEC season

The No. 3 Florida Gators clinched its third-straight SEC Title with a win over No. 27 Auburn Sunday afternoon.
The No. 3 Florida Gators clinched its third-straight SEC Title with a win over No. 27 Auburn Sunday afternoon.

With Florida boasting such a deep and talented roster, senior Lukas Greif has struggled to get playing time this year. Greif has appeared in just two singles matches prior to Sunday, the most recent being all the way back in mid-February.

This weekend, Greif made the most of his opportunity, posting one of the most impressive individual performances of the season for the Gators, a straight-set victory over Auburn’s Jackson Ross.

The Newburgh, Indiana, native set the tone for yet another Florida triumph.

No. 3 Florida (19-2, 11-0) clinched its third straight SEC title Sunday with a 6-1 win over No. 27 Auburn (17-7, 5-5). Despite recent fluctuations at the top of the ITA rankings, the Gators have now won 14 consecutive matches and are just one win away from a perfect SEC season.

The Gators once again managed to start off strong by clinching the doubles point. 

The No. 22 duo of senior Sam Riffice and sophomore Ben Shelton put Florida on the board first with a 6-3 win over Auburn’s No. 36 pairing of Tad Maclean and Finn Murgett. 

Senior Duarte Vale and freshman Nate Bonetto went down 6-5 on court three, but a 6-3 victory from the dependable No.25-ranked partnership of senior Andy Andrade and graduate student Mattias Siimar wrapped things up in doubles.

With the help of Greif, the Gators quickly gained a 2-0 lead. 

No. 117 Josh Goodger then put UF within one point of victory with a two-set win over Murgett. The Englishman has now won seven consecutive singles matches, improving to 9-2 on the season.

No. 108 Vale wasted no time securing the match victory for the Gators, beating Maclean 6-3, 7-5 on court three. Andrade continued to build upon his program record for singles wins by scoring the 130th of his career, a three-set win over Auburn junior Raul Dobai.

Riffice’s personal win streak was under attack early after Auburn junior Jan Galka scored a 6-2 conquest in the first set. However, Riffice bounced back to defeat Galka in three sets, extending his streak to 12 matches.

The only point conceded by the Gators during the match came on court one.

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No. 1 Shelton suffered his second consecutive loss. The Gainesville native dropped the first set in a tiebreaker before winning 6-0 in the second set, but was defeated in a third-set tiebreaker, as his overall record on the season moved to 16-4.

Florida has just one match remaining in the season, which will be back at home against Texas A&M. The match with the Aggies April 17 will begin at 12:30 p.m. and take place at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

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




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