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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gators continue rolling with win over Crimson Tide

Florida beat Alabama 5-2 on Friday, as their hopes of a perfect SEC season remain

Freshman Nate Bonetto (left) and senior Duarte Vale celebrate a score. The Florida men’s tennis team rolled the Crimson Tide Friday night, 5-2
Freshman Nate Bonetto (left) and senior Duarte Vale celebrate a score. The Florida men’s tennis team rolled the Crimson Tide Friday night, 5-2

Florida’s impressive winning streak has been highlighted by the fact that its conquered in doubles in each of those matches. 

It appeared that the doubles streak could be in danger early Friday, with upperclassman tandem Andy Andrade and Mattias Siimar down 5-4 in what would be the deciding doubles match.

The Gator duo had lost three of the previous four games, but they battled back to win two of the next three to force a tiebreaker. They faced adversity once again, going down 6-3 and being just one point away from a loss. However, the No. 25 doubles pair in the country clutched five-consecutive points, as the Gators went on to take their 13th straight doubles point.

Florida’s overall win streak improved to 13 as well, as the No. 3 Gators (18-2, 10-0) beat Alabama (6-17, 0-9) by a 5-2 score. Despite facing one of the worst teams in the SEC, the Gators conceded the most points in a match since their previous 5-2 win over the No. 1 Tennessee

With the win, Florida remains unbeaten in conference play.

No. 22 duo of sophomore Ben Shelton and senior Sam Riffice continued their solid stretch, giving the Gators the early lead in doubles with a 6-4 triumph over freshman Filip Planinsek and senior Patrick Kaukovalta. The feat is the pairing’s seventh victory in their last eight matches. 

Freshman Nate Bonetto and senior Duarte Vale dropped their match by the same score, before Andrade and Siimar saved the day on court two to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.

No. 22 Riffice was able to build on that lead with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alabama freshman Enzo Aguiard. Riffice continues his incredible play as of late, as he has now won each of his last 11 singles matches.

Senior Josh Goodger justified his No. 117 ranking with a two-set win of his own, as the Gators quickly pulled themselves within one point of victory. It would be No. 125 Andrade who finished the job for the Gators, winning the first set 7-5 against Crimson Tide freshman German Samofalov before finishing him off 6-0 in the second set.

With the match already secured, Florida then made it 5-0 after No. 108 Vale put the finishing touches on a two-set victory over Kaukovalta. The Crimson Tide were able to get on the board on court six, as after Bonetto won the first set in an 11-9 tiebreaker, Alabama freshman Zach Foster won the second set 6-0 before finishing off Bonetto in a third-set tiebreaker.

The most surprising result of the match came in garbage time, with No. 1 Shelton locked in a battle against No. 60 Planinsek. Shelton, a Gainesville product, built an early lead to come away with a 6-2 win in the first set, but won just four points in the remaining two sets as he picked up his first singles loss since February 18th, snapping a personal 12-game winning streak.

With the win, the Gators inch even closer to a perfect SEC season, as they have just two matches remaining in the regular season. Their penultimate challenge comes Sunday against No. 27 Auburn. The match will be played in Auburn, Alabama, and will begin at 1 p.m.

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

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