Tied at 5-5 in a decisive third set, Johannes Ingildsen had a chance to keep the Gators alive.
But in front of almost 2,000 fans, the freshman fell short in the match’s final two games. In last year’s contest against Florida State on March 10, the Florida men’s tennis team fell in a 4-2 upset, ending with Ingildsen’s 7-5 third-set loss on the No. 4 court.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., the No. 8 Gators (3-0) and No. 22 Seminoles (9-1) will revisit their historic rivalry at Orlando’s USTA National Campus — the largest tennis complex in the United States.
Ingildsen, now a sophomore who sees himself as a leader on the team, says this weekend’s match brings a lot of excitement.
“We lost last year in a huge match, a huge battle,” Ingildsen said. “Everyone is fired up to get revenge.”
Ingildsen holds the No. 7 singles ranking in the nation and plays UF’s No. 2 singles court behind junior Alfredo Perez, who is ranked No. 8. The two are a combined 4-0 this year in singles play.
In doubles, Perez and Ingildsen boast the nation’s top ranking and are finding a rhythm after three dual matches.
In practice this week, the Gators’ plan was simple.
“The goal is for the guys to try to get better individually each day,” assistant coach Tanner Stump said.
The coaching staff is also looking for high energy, especially when the team travels away from home. Without the comfort of the Ring Tennis Complex and its Gainesville crowd, the Gators will have to rely on each other to keep the competitive spirit high.
Stump doesn’t think that’ll be a problem.
“It’s really difficult to put us away,” he said. “Whether its people cheering for them or against them, I think they’ll love it.”