The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Gators advance to semifinals

125 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - As No. 1 seed Florida and No. 9 Alabama were warming up to begin the third quarterfinals match of the day at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex, Mother Nature had a different idea.

Heavy rain began to fall and a mad dash for the indoor courts ensued.

Once indoors playing on only three courts, the Gators took the doubles point and three quick singles matches to top Alabama 4-1 and advanced to their fourth consecutive SEC Tournament semifinal.

Florida also extended its winning streak to 15 matches and has not lost at home since falling to TCU, 4-3, on March 14, 2017.

For the fourth consecutive match the Gators took the early advantage with the doubles point. Sophomores Duarte Vale and Andy Andrade took a 6-4 decision on court 3 to set up the clinching match on courts 1 or 2. Those would be a little tighter battle.

Tied 5-5 on both courts, McClain Kessler and Johannes Ingildsen pulled out the 7-5 win on court 1 to seal the doubles point. Oliver Crawford and Alfredo Perez's 6-5 lead went unfinished.

In singles, Florida started with No. 1, 2 and 3 due to the number of courts. Andrade, quickly, claimed the first set 6-1 and finished off his court with a 6-3 second set. This win marked career-No. 50 for Andrade, as just a sophomore.

Crawford won his highly emotional 2-set decision on court 1. After rallying back from down 2-4, the sophomore took the first set 6-4 and then rolled in the second, dropping one game. His win put Florida up 3-0, needing only one other match to go its way for the clincher.

On court 2, Sam Riffice, who had dropped the first set 4-6, forced a third set with a 6-4 second-set victory. The freshman couldn't complete the comeback as he fell 4-6 in the final frame and his 12-match winning streak came to an end.

Perez, who had taken over on court 3 following Andrade's win, jumped out to an early one set lead with a 6-4 decision. Vale and Lukas Greif had also begun their matches on the other courts.

In the second set, Perez and Patrick Kaukovalta held serve through 5 before the Florida's senior got a break and pulled out the 7-5 victory and clinched the win for the Gators.

Vale and Greif's matches were abandoned.

Up next, the top-seeded Gators will play in Saturday's 3 p.m. semifinals match against the winner of the #4 Tennessee and #5 Georgia match. #2 Mississippi State and #6 South Carolina will meet in the other semifinal match scheduled for Noon.

Quotes from the Gators:

Sophomore Andy Andrade

On earning his 50th-career singles win...

"It's pretty nice and it's a good accomplishment for sure. Fifty for my second year is a good number and it makes me happy to win matches for the team"

On the attitude of the team after moving indoors...

"Our edge and mindset going indoors was good, we didn't change anything we were doing. At the end of the day it's just tennis, you just have to go out there and compete and make good decisions. We believe in each other and know whoever goes out there is going to get the job done."

Senior Alfredo Perez

On clinching the match for the Gators

"It was a fast match, it was a very big serve from both sides and a lot of aces and quick points. I played pretty well out today and consistent for the most part. I made a lot of good choices and I am starting to get my game back. It is never easy to play a big server just because it is hard to break him. It went well overall, it felt good to get a W for the team"

On looking ahead to the semifinal match

"Obviously [either one is] a really good team and we just have to keep preparing like we have all year. It's just another match with a good team that is going to come out and give their best and try to knock us out. We just have to go out there and give it all we got."

Final Results

#3 Florida 4, #21 Alabama 1

Doubles-Order of Finish: 3,2

1. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) vs. #13 Patrick Kaukovalta/Mazen Osama (UA)- 6-5, unfinished

2. McClain Kessler/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) def. Edson Ortiz/Riccardo Roberto (UA)- 7-5

3. Andres Andrade/Duarte Vale (UF) def. Sam Fischer/Zhe Zhou (UA)- 6-4

Singles-Order of Finish: 3,1,2,4

1. #11 Oliver Crawford (UF) def. #46 Mazen Osama (UA)- 6-4, 6-1

2. Edson Ortiz (UA) def. #52 Sam Riffice (UF)- 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

3. #50 Andres Andrade (UF) def. Riccardo Roberto (UA)- 6-1, 6-3

4. Alfredo Perez (UF) def. Patrick Kaukovalta (UA)- 6-4, 7-5

5. #94 Duarte Vale (UF) vs. Zhe Zhou (UA)- 2-6, 2-3, unfinished

6. Lukas Greif (UF) vs. Alexey Nesterov (UA)- 1-1, unfinished