LAKE NONA, Fla. -- The Gators men's tennis team dropped the doubles point on Saturday afternoon to Texas and then lost the first set in four of six singles matches.
Taking the long way to a berth in Sunday's national championship match was not meant to be for the Gators, who lost to the Longhorns 4-2 on a hot and humid afternoon here at the USTA National Campus.
Making its first trip to the NCAA semifinals since 2005 and for the third time in program history, Florida's quest to reach the championship match for the first time came to an end. The Gators (25-4) dropped to 0-3 all-time in the Final Four as Texas advanced to face the Wake Forest-North Carolina winner on Sunday.
In their deepest run in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Bryan Shelton, the Gators were unable to overcome their slow start Saturday.
"Texas did a nice job today in the critical stages of matches,'' said Shelton, who concluded his seventh and most successful season. "We always say those first 20 minutes of singles, you really want to set the tone and I thought Texas did a great job of that, coming out aggressively. I think our guys were up for the fight.
"I thought if we could get them deep, we had a good chance in the heat, extend the matches a little bit longer and continue to play, that we would have our chances. They did a good job at stepping up at the right time and executing."
Perhaps the best example of the No. 2-seed Longhorns (28-3) rising to the occasion was at No. 3 singles after UF's Johannes Ingildsen went up 5-4 in the second set, already down after losing the first set 6-4 to Texas' Leonardo Telles. Instead of Ingildsen evening the match, Telles stormed back to win the final three games of the set.
The Gators threatened to even the match after dropping the doubles and then falling behind 3-0. Sophomore Oliver Crawford's victory at No. 1 singles and Andy Andrade's victory over Colin Markes at No. 5 singles trimmed Texas' lead to 3-2.
However, with Alfredo Perez and Ingildsen still in contention for comeback wins, Telles nailed a pair of aces in the final game against Ingildsen before closing the match out.