COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The No. 11 University of Florida tennis team earned a 4-0 win over the No. 13 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday afternoon at the Carolina Tennis Complex in Columbia, S.C. With the win, the Gators advance to the SEC Tournament Championship tomorrow and will face the Georgia Bulldogs at Noon ET.
It took nearly three hours of play, but the Gators were able to get it done in both doubles and singles play. After securing the doubles point early on, the Gators hit a bumpy stretch where they were down in 5-of-6 singles matches before locking in to come back and secure three straight points and the 4-0 win.
In doubles action, freshman Alfredo Perez and sophomore Chase Perez-Blanco took the first set on a 6-3 win over Texas A&M's Max Lunkin and Arthur Rinderknech. Seniors Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson sealed the 1-0 lead with a 6-4 win over the Aggies' Aleksandre Bakishi and Jackson Withrow.
The Gators are now 14-4 when clinching the doubles point. In singles play, Perez got it done early with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Texas A&M's Shane Vinsant to put the Orange and Blue in front, 2-0. Junior Elliot Orkin added on with a 7-6, 6-1 triumph over the Texas A&M's Jordi Arconada for the 3-0 lead. Chase Perez-Blanco had the match-clinching win on court four in three sets. After dropping the first, 6-4, the Miami native came back on won the second and third sets with a pair of 6-2 victories.
The Gators return to the court tomorrow at Noon ET in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship when they square away with the Georgia Bulldogs at Noon ET.
Head Coach Bryan Shelton
On the win over Texas A&M:
"I'm really proud of our guys. I thought they showed up and came ready to play. We're really excited about the opportunity to compete in the Championship tomorrow.
"Credit to Texas A&M, they've got a great program and a great team. They beat us in the regular season and I think our guys were looking forward to the opportunity to play them again knowing we'd be pushed to the limit -- and we responded with that. I'm really proud of the way we fought back in both doubles and singles play. It says a lot about our resilience, toughness, and physical fitness.
On the opportunity to play Georgia tomorrow in the Tournament Championship:
"It's a great opportunity for us. We get a chance to play in the conference championship in one of the best conferences in collegiate tennis. I'm really proud of our guys for creating this opportunity with the effort and work they've put in this season.
"A lot has gone into this to get us to this point and the guys are hungry for it. They're certainly not satisfied. The loss we took in Athens a few weeks ago still sits right in our chests -- and we haven't forgotten about it. I know our guys will be motivated. And not only motivated to play in the match, but to go out and compete like champions.