Florida's Maxx Lipman, right, and Elliott Orkin celebrates after winning a point while playing a doubles match against Florida Gulf Coast during the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Tennis Championship at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex, in Gainesville Friday May 12, 2017. The Gators beat the Eagles 4-0 to advance.

Gators loving it

By Jim Harvin Correspondent
Friday, May 12, 2017 11:37 PM

Florida moved into the second round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship with a 4-0 opening-round win Friday over FGCU at Scott Linder Stadium.

The 15th-ranked Gators (18-9) will face off with Georgia Tech today at 4 p.m. for the right to advance to the Round of 16 next weekend in Athens, Georgia.

“I was really pleased with the way we competed today,” UF coach Bryan Shelton said. “Florida Gulf Coast came in and they were a stern test. (Coach) C. J. (Weber) does a great job getting those guys to play with energy and fight. Even when we got to a point where we were up a lot of first sets in singles, they continued to fight and push, which is a tribute to how hard they work and the things they do.

“But I'm really proud of our guys. I thought we came out and played good doubles from the beginning and played with good energy, and it was good to see us finish in the end. We felt like on every court, we were playing better as the matches went along.”

UF won the doubles point quickly to take a 1-0 lead, and then the Gators' Alfredo Perez made it 2-0 with a quick 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles.

“I felt good,” Perez said. “Everything went my way. The guy was fighting and he was trying to come back, and I didn't give him any chances."

From there, it took about 25-30 minutes before Florida made it 3-0 with a win at No. 6 singles from McClain Kessler, and Chase Perez-Blanco sealed it moments later by closing out his match at No. 4.

The Yellow Jackets (18-7), meanwhile, advanced with a 4-1 victory over Minnesota (17-11) in the opening match of the tournament.

Today should be interesting as Shelton, who is in his fifth year at UF, takes on the team he coached for 13 seasons (2000-2012) before accepting the offer to come to Florida.

He led Georgia Tech to four straight ACC titles from 2005 to 2008, topped by winning the NCAA title in 2007 when the Yellow Jackets won a school-record 29 matches.

“It's going to be a great match,” he said. “I know our guys are ready to compete. We want to get to Athens. We want to get to the Final 16 site. That's the goal that we have right now in front of us.

“It doesn't matter who is on the other side of the net. I have total respect for them. I'm just ready to get after it.”




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