Down 5-4 in the first set, junior Alfredo Perez needed to make some adjustments to come back in his second-round match against Victor Pham of Columbia.
Perez fought hard to take the lead, 6-5, before claiming the set win. He went on to take the match win (7-6(3), 6-4), keeping his chances of a singles title alive and within reach.
Led by Perez, the Gators went undefeated in singles and doubles play on Thursday at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Indian Wells, California.
“Nothing came easily for us today, but we battled hard and found the winner’s circle,” UF men’s tennis coach Bryan Shelton said.
Perez will start off Friday’s competition with the Round of 16. Before his win against Pham on Thursday, he started the tournament with a 7-6(5), 7-6(8) win against Nicolas Moreno de Alboran of UC Santa Barbara.
In doubles play, the Florida duo of Duarte Vale and McClain Kessler fought through a three-set match against Zvonimir Babic and Filip Kraljevic of Mississippi. The Gators were tied 11-all with the rebels in the third set, before pulling ahead to take the win, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0(13-11).
Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez finished off Thursday’s matches with another win, giving the Gators a perfect day with six wins and zero losses. The Gator pair was able to take down David Felix and Peter Trhac of Idaho State, 6-1, 4-6, 1-0(10-5).
In consolation singles play, senior Anna Danilina defeated Linda Huang of Colorado, 6-4, 6-4.
Ingildsen also found success in his consolation match against Alex Ribeiro of Virginia Tech with an impressive comeback after being down 4-1 in the first set. Ingildsen fought his way to a match win with scores of 7-6(0), 2-6, 6-1.
In consolation doubles play, Oliver Crawford and Chase Perez-Blanco bounced back after dropping the first set against Benjamin Hannestad and Tim Ruehl of Arizona State. Florida took away the win with scores of 6(1)-7, 6-3, 1-0(10-7).
“We have to continue to approach every single day the same was as if there is no tomorrow,” Shelton said.
In addition to competing in the Fall Championships, five Gators from the tennis program will compete in the Dick Vitale Invitational in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, this weekend.
From the women’s team, seniors Josie Kuhlman and Peggy Porter and freshman Katie Kubicz will represent the Gators with coach Roland Thornqvist.
From the men’s team, senior Jordan Belga and freshman Andy Andrade will travel with volunteer assistant coach Scott Perelman. Belga and Andrade will play in singles and in doubles together.
Competition for the tournament includes schools from the ACC, Big 10, SEC and other collegiate leagues.
Singles and doubles matches for the Dick Vitale will begin on Friday and conclude on Sunday.
You can follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari, and contact her at [email protected].