Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Florida Gators men’s tennis team’s comeback proved that statement true.
The Gators came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat No.15 TCU 4-3 on Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas. For the second straight match, the Gators had to overcome the weather as rainy conditions in Fort Worth moved all matches indoors. The win brought the fourth-ranked Gators to a 5-0 record.
The day got off to a good start for the Gators. They took the doubles point for the fourth time this season. Sophomore Oliver Crawford and freshman Sam Riffice won on court three while sophomore Duarte Vale and senior McClain Kessler won on court one, each won by a score of 6-4. TCU won on court two with senior Alfredo Perez and junior Johannes Ingildsen taking the loss for the Gators.
The success in doubles didn’t carry over into singles, however. Vale, Riffice, and sophomore Andy Andrade all lost for the Gators. This was the first loss Riffice suffered in singles all season. These losses put the team on the defensive as TCU needed just one more victory to clinch the win.
The pressure was on Crawford and Ingildsen to keep the Gators’ chances alive. Initially, the outlook looked bleak as both lost their first sets. However, both recovered and won their second and third sets to tie the match at three apiece. The win was especially hard for Ingildsen, who needed to go to a tiebreaker in the third set to win 7-6.
The match for both teams came down to a battle of freshmen with UF freshmen Lukas Greif taking on TCU freshman Sander Jong. Greif dominated Jong, beating him 6-4, 6-2 in straight sets, capping the comeback for the Gators and becoming the fifth different player to clinch a match for the Gators.
Coach Bryan Shelton said he was proud of Greif and hopes the team uses this comeback as a learning moment.
“Lukas Greif was cool under pressure and shut the door on them with the match on the line,” Shelton said in a release. “I hope we learned a lot from this match. We have to stay aggressive and cool under fire to beat teams like this one.”
Follow Noah Ram on Twitter @noah_ram1.