LAKE NONA, Fla. - This Florida team seems to resemble that of the 2005 Gators, but it now look to break the mold and go somewhere no team in program history has ever gone.
With a 4-0 sweep of Baylor in Thursday's Elite Eight match at the USTA National Campus, Florida advanced to the Final Four for the first time in 14 years. This is also just the third time in program history that the Gators have reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals, falling in both 2000 and 2005.
Florida has the opportunity to be the first team in program history to play in the national championship match.
The Gators took a highly contested doubles point to go up 1-0 early in the match. As all three courts battled in tight matches, it was senior Alfredo Perez and sophomore Oliver Crawford who took the first match, 6-4, on Court 2. Senior McClain Kessler and junior Johannes Ingildsen earned their second top-10 doubles win in the last week as they upset Baylor's No. 1 ranked duo, 7-5, to clinch the point for the Gators.
The momentum carried over to singles, as Florida took the first set on four of the six courts.
Kessler dominated on Court 6 as he earned a 6-1, 6-0 win to put the Gators up 2-0. Kessler is now 9-1 in dual singles this season.
After taking their first sets, it was a race to see who would clinch the match for Florida. Sophomore Andy Andrade and Sam Riffice, both had match point balls in the air at the same time, up 40-15. Andrade finished his match, 6-2 just moments before the Orlando native and SEC Freshman of the Year clinched the match for Florida, sending them on to Saturday's Final Four.
Up next, the third-seeded Gators will meet the sixth-seeded Texas Longhorns in the NCAA semis Saturday at the USTA. The UF-UT match will be played at noon on courts 1-6 and will be live-streamed at WATCH- USTA NATIONAL CAMPUS. For all the details regarding the final rounds and to buy tickets, please visit the Tournament Headquarters for the USTA.
Florida sits at 6-9 all-time against Texas with the last meeting taking place in Charlottesville, Va., at the ITA Indoor National Championships on Feb. 17, 2017. The Longhorns took the match 4-2.