GAINESVILLE, Fla. - In a dramatic come from behind victory, No. 13 Tennessee shocks No. 3 Florida in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament as the Vols, who were down 3-1, rally to win, 4-3.
"That's what Tennessee tennis is about," assistant coach James McKie said. "It's about guys that will fight to the end no matter what the score is. Florida is obviously a very good team but our guys believed we could do it and we proved again that we can go for the title tomorrow."
The win sends Tennessee to the SEC Championship match for the first time since 2013 and earns the Vols their first win over Florida in Gainesville since 2010.
The championship match will be UT's third opportunity for revenge this weekend as it will face Mississippi State on Sunday, April 21. The Bulldogs gave the Vols their last loss a month ago in Starkville but Tennessee has gone on a nine-match winning streak since the, 4-3, loss.
The championship final will be broadcast on the SEC Network beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
UT has a chance to win its first SEC Tournament title since 2010 which would give the Vols their 13th SEC title in program history and the fourth since the new championship format was introduced in 1990.
Tennessee (20-6) repeated its fast start from Friday by winning the doubles point in quick fashion on courts one and two.
On court one, the 10th-ranked duo of Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos breezed by Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez, 6-1. Over on two, Pat Harper and Andrew Rogers clinched the doubles point with a, 6-3, victory over Johannes Ingildsen/McClain Kessler.
Scott Jones and Adam Walton went unfinished against Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade on court three.
Florida (21-3) however, fought back in singles with wins at five, six and one to take a 3-1 lead. Perez defeated Martim Prata, 6-2, 6-2, on five. At six, Touliatos fell to Vale, 1-6, 4-6 as the Gators took a 2-1 lead.
At center court, No. 11 Crawford ended No. 28 Stodder's eight-match win streak, taking the match, 6-4, 6-2, as the Gators took a commanding 3-1 lead.
Jones got the rally started by picking up UT's first singles victory by a score of, 6-4, 6-2, in two sets. Jones had to battle hard against No. 91 Ingildsen, who was down 4-1, but rallied to make it 5-4 before Jones was finally able to put him away.
Jones' win made the match score, 3-2 Florida, with court two and four playing third sets.
Luca Wiedenmann and No. 71 Walton's matches at two and four against No. 52 Sam Riffice and No. 50 Andrade, respectively, were back-and-forth throughout. Both matches were tied multiple times as the lead repeatedly changed hands.
Wiedenmann fell down, 5-3, to Andrade after being tied, 3-3, but rallied back to tie the match once again at, 5-5, before he took the lead at 6-5. Wiedenmann's rally and UT's rally continued as he took the third set, 7-5, and tied the match up at 3-3.
The dramatics continued as Walton/Riffice continued to fight for each point and game and found themselves tied up at 5-5 in the third set. That's when Walton went to work.
The sophomore rattled off back-to-back game wins to complete Tennessee's comeback with a, 7-5, third set win over Riffice, giving the Big Orange the match win, 4-3.
"It's time to rest up, get in the cold tub and treat every match the same," McKie said. "It's back to work and back to business tomorrow. Mississippi State is a very good team and they are very well coached. We lost a nail-bitter in Starkville last month so we know what we're getting but it's time to do the right things off the court and go back to work."
Tennessee will play for an SEC title on Sunday against Mississippi State at 2 p.m. from the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex. The match will be broadcast live on the SEC Network.
#13 Tennessee 4, #3 Florida 3
1. #11 Oliver Crawford (UF) def. #28 Timo Stodder (UT) 6-4, 6-2
2. #71 Adam Walton (UT) def. #52 Sam Riffice (UF) 1-6, 6-3, 7-5
3. Scott Jones (UT) def. #91 Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-4, 6-2
4. Luca Wiedenmann (UT) def. #50 Andres Andrade (UF) 6-4, 3-6, 7-5
5. Alfredo Perez (UF) def. Martim Prata (UT) 6-2, 6-2
6. #94 Duarte Vale (UF) def. Preston Touliatos (UT) 6-1, 6-4
1. #10 Timo Stodder/Preston Touliatos (UT) def. Oliver Crawford/Alfredo Perez (UF) 6-1
2. Pat Harper/Andrew Rogers (UT) def. McClain Kessler/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-3
3. Duarte Vale/Andres Andrade (UF) vs. Scott Jones/Adam Walton (UT) 5-2, unfinished
Order of Finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,6,1,3,4,2)