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PREVIEW: Men’s tennis team hosts SEC Tournament

The Florida men’s tennis team hasn’t lost a match in two months.

Coming off its first outright SEC regular-season championship since 2005, the Gators are ready for postseason play as they prepare to host the SEC Tournament at the Ring Tennis Complex all week long.

Entering play as the No. 1 seed, and No. 3 overall per the ITA, Florida (20-2, 12-0 SEC) earns an automatic bid to the quarterfinals with two byes in the first and second rounds. It’s slated to play the winner of either No. 8 Ole Miss or No. 9 Alabama on Friday at noon.

The Gators dominated both matches in the regular season against the Rebels and Alabama. Just two weeks ago, UF traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and stomped on the then-No. 26 Crimson Tide in a 7-0 win. Florida didn’t drop one match, sweeping doubles with a combined 18-7 performance, and handling the singles courts with three straight-set wins.

The match against Ole Miss was no different, as the Rebels traveled to Gainesville on March 8 and were handed a 6-1 loss. Florida claimed the opening doubles point with ease and moved on to singles where they won on all but one court. Johannes Ingildesen fell to the Rebels’ Karlo Kranic on Court 4 in a third set tiebreaker.

Depth Crucial Part of Success

Florida has played top-notch tennis with an array of different players. Holding five players in the ITA’s Top 100 in No. 11 Oliver Crawford, No. 50 Andy Andrade, No. 51 Sam Riffice, No. 91  Ingildsen and No. 94 Duarte Vale and three different doubles pairings in the Top 60, Florida’s depth is extremely prevalent.

Due to the talent surrounding coach Bryan Shelton, Florida has the ability to mix-and-match its lineup which is one reason Shelton believes his team has gone so far.

Senior leadership showing

The Gators historically dominant run in which they’ve yet to lose to a conference foe can be credited, in some part, to their veteran leaders: seniors McClain Kessler and Alfredo Perez. According to  Shelton, the two have been driving forces for this team this season.

Shelton credits their competitive nature for being so prevalent around the team, leading to an improvement for themselves and every member on Florida.

Kessler currently ranks at No. 29 in doubles play alongside Vale entering the tournament, while Perez has been holding down Courts 5 and 6 for Florida as of late with three straight wins to enter postseason play.

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