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Friday, August 12, 2022

Gators claim sixth-straight Round of 16 appearance

Florida men’s tennis’ championship hopes continue to burn bright Saturday

<p>Florida’s Ben Shelton prepares to hit a ball against Auburn on Feb. 21, 2021. Shelton helped his team reach the Sweet 16 in a Saturday victory over Miami.</p>

Florida’s Ben Shelton prepares to hit a ball against Auburn on Feb. 21, 2021. Shelton helped his team reach the Sweet 16 in a Saturday victory over Miami.

Following Florida’s juggernaut performance against New Orleans Friday, head coach Bryan Shelton commented on the upcoming second round matchup against Miami.

“I know their coach really well,” Shelton said. “I know he’ll have his team ready to play and come back after a really good win today against a very good South Florida team.”

Shelton had his team prepared to play as No-2 seeded Florida (25-2, 12-0 SEC) knocked the Canes (17-10, 5-7 ACC) out of the tournament Saturday, 4-0, and secured its sixth-straight Round of 16 berth. 

“It was a hard-fought match,” Shelton said. “Just fortunate that I've got these guys that I have on my squad that just compete so hard every single match.”

Miami showed great toughness and grit as it survived an entertaining battle against South Florida, 4-3. The Canes completed the comeback after trailing, 3-1 to a very capable USF team.

While Miami clawed their way back into contention Friday, Florida cruised by the Privateers, 4-0, off skillful doubles and singles play.

The reigning national champions picked off right where they left off Saturday, capturing their 20th straight doubles point, highlighted by senior Sam Riffice and sophomore Ben Shelton defeating fourth-year juniors Franco Aubone and Juan Martin Jalif, 6-3.

The Gator duo of freshman Nate Bonetto and senior Duarte Vale easily handled Miami fifth year senior Bojan Jankulovski and graduate student Dan Martin, 6-3.

In singles play Florida’s magnificent play sealed the win and generated fiery, competitive rounds of play.

Riffice solidly took care of Jankulovski, 6-3, 6-0, to clinch the Gators first singles point of the day and the veteran improved to 21-5 in dual matches this year.

Vale defeated fifth-year Benjamin Hannestad, 6-3, 6-3 and senior Josh Goodger overpowered freshman Casper Christensen, 6-4, 6-4 to end the Canes season. Vale spoke about the team's focus and preparation as they look to advance in the tournament.

“I think we have expectations about how we should be,” Vale said. “Our focus has to be on the things that we can control.”

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The victory signaled Florida’s return to the NCAA Super Regionals beginning May 13-14, as its pursuit of being crowned back-to-back national champion continues.

Contact Brenda Bogle at bbogle@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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Brenda Bogle

Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.


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