It’s a clash of the tennis titans.
The No. 1 Florida Gator men’s tennis team welcomes the second ranked Texas Longhorns to Gainesville in a non-conference clash. Florida has come out of the gates strong. The Gators started the season with two dominant performances against Furman and Florida Atlantic, respectively. Now, the Gators will be tested against a familiar foe.
Wednesday night’s match isn’t the first time these two powerhouses have squared off. The two met in the Final Four last season with Texas eliminating Florida 4-2. This win propelled the Longhorns to a national championship.
Florida head coach Bryan Shelton joined Sportscene with Steve Russell Wednesday afternoon. Even though the Longhorns ended Florida’s quest for its first National Championship, Shelton said there’s no hatred between the two teams.
The Longhorns take the court with two of the top tennis stars in the country in No. 2 Yuya Ito and No. 13 Christian Sigsgaard. Ito was named the Most Outstanding Player of 2019 NCAA Championships as he was the one who clinched the title for the Longhorns. Sisgaard was named to the First Team All-Big 12 in both singles and doubles.
Shelton praised the tandem and said, “we’ll have our hands full tonight.”
Florida counters with top talent of its own. Florida is led by No. 4 Sam Riffice, No. 31 Oliver Crawford and No. 72 Andy Andrade. All three come into the showdown with Texas with a 1-0 record in singles play.
As the saying goes, “if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
This applies to Gator men’s tennis. Florida has the opportunity to knock off the defending national champion for the second year in a row. Last season, the Gators beat then-defending champion Wake Forest 5-2.
The separation between Florida and Texas is razor thin. This is evident by the preseason rankings. Florida secured five first place votes while Texas only secured four.
Shelton said this ranking shows the direction of the program.
The Gators and Longhorns face off at 5 p.m. at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.