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The Florida men’s tennis team will complete its five-match road swing this weekend, traveling to Alabama on Friday and Auburn on Sunday. The Gators, 8-6 overall on the season, will be looking to improve their 2-2 Southeastern Conference record before returning to Gainesville for their first home matches in nearly a month next weekend.
Florida split matches at No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Tennessee last weekend. UF lost, 4-0, to the Bulldogs in Athens on Friday and took down the Volunteers, 4-3, in a tight match in Knoxville on Sunday. Head coach Bryan Shelton is learning that there are no breaks when playing in the SEC.
“It’s a tough conference. We know there’s no easy ones in this conference,” said Shelton. “We found that out after beating Texas A&M and then going up to South Carolina and taking one on the chin in a tough battle. The good news is that we can beat some good teams. I think we’ve shown that. But we can also lose to a lot of teams out there as well.”
Things won’t be any easier this weekend. Alabama is 12-5 overall on the season and 3-2 in the SEC. Auburn is 10-5 and 2-3 in the conference after losing to the Crimson Tide, 4-3, last weekend. Alabama is ranked 26th in the latest ITA rankings, while the Tigers stand at No. 35 in the rankings.
“We’ve got to be ready to play and we’ve got to be ready to execute,” said Coach Shelton. “If we’re not, we’re going to get beat. Simple as that, because the competition is that good. If we play well, and we work hard and do things the right way, we’ve got some opportunities to have success out there. That’s the main thing that we see. This is a tough league.”
“We’ve been on the road now a couple of weeks in a row and have another road weekend for the third weekend in a row. We’ve just got to get tough. Those are the cards that we’ve been dealt. We’ve just got to go out there and battle against very good Alabama and Auburn teams this weekend.”
The Tide have two players rated in the top 100 in singles, with Jarryd Botha playing atop the lineup and ranked No. 58. Becker O’Shaughnessey is ranked 79th in singles and pairs with Daniil Proskura in doubles to rank 75th. Botha and David Vieyra rank 72nd as a doubles pair.
Auburn boasts three players in the top 100 in singles, led by Andreas Mies at No. 46. Lukas Ollert ranks 85th while Daniel Cochrane is 86th in the singles rankings. Cochrane and Mies team up to form the No. 3-ranked doubles tandem in the nation.
Live scoring for both matches will be available online through the Alabama and Auburn web sites. Results will be posted on GatorZone.com after the matches.