The Florida Gator (7-4) men’s tennis team defeated No. 11 Texas A&M (9-5) 4-3 on Sunday in its SEC opener.
The Gators ended their four match losing streak, but the road to redemption wasn’t easy as Florida once again lost the doubles point for the fith match in a row.
No. 2 doubles saw the Gators battle back after senior Billy Federhofer and freshman Gordon Watson dropped an early break to the Texas A&M freshman duo of Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant. However, Federhofer and Watson were not able to get the break back losing 8-6, which gave the Aggies the advantage.
The only doubles team to win their match was the junior pairing of Mike Alford and Florent Diep defeating the Aggies sophomore lineup of Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo 8-4 on Court 3.
The Texas A&M duo of junior Junior Ore and sophomore Jackson Withrow finally clinched the doubles point at No. 1 doubles defeating Florida’s team of senior Bob van Overbeek and junior Stephane Piro 9-8 (3) to give the Aggies the doubles point.
Florida head coach Bryan Shelton says there were bright spots in the doubles performance.
Things didn’t look much better for the Gators in singles going down 2-0 early after Overbeek lost his match at No. 1 singles to Ore 6-4, 6-1. Overbeek continues to struggle with confidence and has lost four matches in a row.
However, despite the grim outlook, the Gators got on the board at No. 6 singles. Federhofer blitzed through Texas A&M sophomore Behzad Minavi 6-0,6-4 to give Florida its first point of the match.
Diep at No.2 singles tied the match at 2-2, after defeating Adams 6-4, 6-3. Diep was down in the first set 4-2, but Bryan Shelton says Diep changed his strategy.
Texas A&M took the lead back from the Gators, when Efferding took down Florida’s Piro 0-6, 6-4,6-3 at No. 3 singles. Piro dazzled the Gator fans with his shotmaking in the first set, but faltered down stretch.
The Gators fought back against and tied it up at 3-3 at No. 5 singles which saw the return of Watson. Watson was rusty in doubles, but looked good in singles against a game Withrow from Texas A&M. Watson was solid throughout eventually outlasting Withrow 7-5, 7-6 (6) in a two hour two set match. Watson did not play in last week’s match against Baylor.
Watson’s win set up the final battle on court No. 3 that saw Florida’s Alford and Texas A&M’s Vinsant battle deep into the third set. Alford dropped the first set 6-3, before racing through the second set 6-1, setting up the physically demanding third set; it went to a tiebreak that saw Alford get out to a 4-2 lead. However, Vinsant responded taking the next three points to give Vinsant a 5-4 advantage.
After Vinsant took the lead, Florda coach Bryan Shelton had a quick conversation with Alford, who responded winning the next three points to give the Gators the victory.
Coach Shelton says you have to play a certain way to win close matches.
The Gators next match will be on the road against South Carolina on Friday at 5 p.m.
No. 1 TAMU Junior Ore/Jackson Withrow(17) d. UF Stephane Piro/Bob van Overbeek 9-8(3) Match Time: 1 hour 11 min.
No.2 TAMU Harrison Adams/Shane Vinsant(21) d. UF Billy Federhofer/Gordon Watson 8-6 Match Time: 44 min.
No. 3 UF Mike Alford/Florent Diep d. Jeremy Efferding 8-4Match Time: 52 min.
No.1 TAMU Junior Ore d. UF Bob van Overbeek(104) 6-4,6-1 Match Time: 1 hour 6min.
No.2 UF Florent Diep(62) d. TAMU Harrison Adams 6-4,6-3 Match Time 1 hour 33 min.
No.3 TAMU Jeremy Efferding d. Stephane Piro 0-6,6-4,6-3 Match Time: 1 hour 43 min.
No.4 UF Mike Alford d. TAMU Shane Vinsant(90) 3-6,6-1,7-6(5) Match Time: 2 hours 18 min.
No.5 UF Gordon Watson d. TAMU Jackson Winthrow(115) 7-5,7-6(6) Match Time: 1 hour 59 min.
No.6 UF Billy Federhofer d. TAMU Behzad Minavi 6-0,6-4 Match Time: 1 hour 8 mins.