Oliver Crawford played in his first match as a UF tennis player over the weekend at the ITA Regional Championships in Atlanta. Crawford, a freshman from Spartanburg, South Carolina, made his debut a memorable one. He won his first match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3, against Joan Carles Alcala of Georgia Southern on Saturday.
“Great to see Oliver play his first collegiate matches,” coach Bryan Shelton said in a release. “I am sure he will get better with each match he plays.”
Crawford came to UF as the top-ranked recruit in South Carolina according to TennisRecruiting.net, and won both of his singles matches and played in two doubles matches in Atlanta.
Crawford’s second win came against Giles Hussey of Georgia State, 6-3, 6-2. He advanced to the third round to play Guy Iradukunda of Florida State.
Aside from Crawford, some other Gators picked up wins in the main draw of singles play.
Freshman Duarte Vale stole a win from Robert Loeb of Georgia in straight sets, 7-6(6), 6-3, advancing past him to Round 3 against Emil Reinberg of UGA.
Junior McClain Kessler was knocked out of the main draw of singles play in the second round against Alex Knaff of FSU in a three-set match, 4-6, 7-6(17), 6-2.
Senior Chase Perez-Blanco was also successful in singles play, defeating Nils Heimer of South Florida, 6-3, 6-0.
In consolation singles play on Sunday, freshman Andy Andrade, sophomore Stephen Madonia and junior Jordan Belga found success in each of their matches, advancing through to the second round of competition.
Andrade defeated Jakub Wojcik of USF in a tough two-setter, 7-6(6), 6-2.
Madonia also beat Andrei Andrukhou of Georgia State in two sets, 6-0, 6-3, and Belga topped Andrei Duarte of Georgia State 6-2, 6-2, and Eddie Landin of Georgia Southern 6-3, 6-4.
Competition for the Gators resumes on Monday with the consolation singles quarterfinals. Andrade, Madonia and Belga will take on competition from Georgia State, Georgia and Florida State to start off Day 4.
Men dominant in doubles
Doubles play has been the Gators strength so far in the tournament, with UF holding a 5-1 record so far heading into today’s quarterfinal round.
On Sunday, the duo of Andrade and Kessler fought hard to defeat Danny Kerznerman and Korey Lovett of Central Florida with a score of 8-7(2).
The pair of Crawford and Perez-Blanco was also victorious in its match against Terrance Whitehurst and Terrell Whitehurst of FSU, 8-5.
The duo of Belga and Madonia also fell to Linus Bergevi and Colter DeCoste of Stetson, 8-5.
Women’s player competes in pro tournament
While Florida’s women’s tennis team prepares for its own ITA Regional Championships tournament, senior Josie Kuhlman is representing the Gators at the Florence Open in South Carolina, a USTA Pro Circuit event.
On Sunday, Kuhlman had a strong start claiming her first win of the tournament against Paula Cristina Goncalves of Brazil, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
Kuhlman currently holds a career record of 92-30 (16-2 SEC) in singles for the Gators up to the 2017 fall season.
Her next match in the tournament will be on Monday against Chloe Beck of the United States. If Kuhlman wins her second-round match, she will move on to the finals to compete for a qualifying spot. Singles play in the main draw will begin on Tuesday.
You can follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari, and contact her at [email protected].