Gators lose fight, SEC tennis title at Vandy
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With the SEC regular-season title on the line, Florida coach Roland Thornqvist was disappointed with his team's effort Sunday in a 4-2 loss at No. 5 Vanderbilt.
The top-ranked Gators began the final regular-season match tied with No. 2 Georgia and the Commodores with an 11-1 SEC record. Vanderbilt won the title outright later Sunday when the Bulldogs lost to Texas A&M.
Florida (21-2, 11-2 SEC) entered the match against Vanderbilt having won the doubles point in 20 of 22 matches, including in each of the last eight matches. The Commodores (17-5, 12-1), however, snapped that run after earning wins on courts one and three.
The teams then split first-set winners on the six singles courts and that's all the Commodores would need, earning wins on the three courts where they captured the initial frame. Brooke Austin and Ingrid Neel provided straight-set singles wins for Florida.
"Vanderbilt played a championship-caliber match today," Thornqvist said. "It was like a real SEC final and they played with better courage than we had in doubles. I thought they were stronger than we were in singles, also.
"I told our players that I hope it really motivates us for next week (SEC Tournament) because for such a big match, it was disappointing that we couldn't raise our level better than this. I think all our players agreed. I'm hoping that maybe this turns into a blessing in disguise so we have a little more of an edge to us in the postseason."
UF had already secured a double-round bye for the SEC Tournament and will play its first match on Friday at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Men: At UF, the Gators defeated Auburn 7-0 to earn a bye in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee later this week. Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin clinched the doubles point for Florida (10-3 SEC) on their senior day with a 6-4 win.
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