The No. 9 Florida men’s tennis team knew that this match would be different.
The Gators men’s tennis team had been waiting for this.
It knew that their opponent on Sunday, Mississippi State, was going to be a tough one.
The Gators started the SEC season 2-0, but those wins came over Arkansas and Ole Miss, who are both ranked in the 40s nationally. Mississippi State, on the other hand, is ranked No. 10, and is the Gators’ biggest competition in the SEC.
Florida stepped up to the challenge.
The Gators defeated the Bulldogs at the Ring Tennis Complex on Sunday afternoon 5-2. Considering that UF and Mississippi State were picked to finish first and second atop the SEC, this win was a major step toward the Gators winning the SEC regular-season championship.
The Gators (9-2), for the first time in SEC play, lost in doubles. The Bulldogs have two doubles pairs who are ranked in the top 10 nationally and Florida’s doubles combo of McClain Kessler and Duarte Vale and Johannes Ingildsen and Alfredo Perez struggled. It lost two doubles matches 6-3. Sam Riffice and Oliver Crawford were the only winners for Florida, winning 6-1.
UF responded in a dominant way in singles. The team won the first set in five of the six singles matches and most didn’t let up in the second set. Riffice and Lukas Greif each won in two sets to put the Gators ahead 2-1. Riffice and Greif improved to 3-0 in SEC play.
Andy Andrade earned a tough 6-4, 7-5 victory. The Gators’ clinching point was much harder to come by though. Johannes Ingildsen clinched the match in a three-set victory over Niclas Braun 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Vale picked up the final win for the Gators, beating Florian Broska in three sets. The only loss the Gators suffered in singles was courtesy of Nuno Borges, the third-ranked player in the country, who beat No. 24 Oliver Crawford in straight sets.
A crowd of 375 people watched the Gators improve to 40-20 all-time against the Bulldogs and pick up their ninth win this season.
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