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The Florida men’s tennis lost a heartbreaker to No. 13 Mississippi State, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex. After dropping the doubles point, the Gators stormed back in singles to take a 3-1 lead, but the Bulldogs pulled out the final three matches to earn the victory.
“I’ve got to give Mississippi State credit,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “Those guys just continued to fight and they got stronger as the match went along. They gathered some momentum and didn’t let up and they didn’t give it back. We kind of needed a little bit of help there and they didn’t give us any help. My hat’s definitely off to them. They came on the road and played tough, as we knew they would.
“I was still very proud of our guys, losing the doubles point but coming back in the singles and putting three points on the board for us. That was impressive.”
Mississippi State jumped on top in doubles after some close matches on all three courts. Florent Diep and Gordon Watson finished first with an 8-5 win over the Bulldogs’ Pedro Dumont and Ethan Wilkinson at No. 3 doubles. MSU’s 15th-ranked duo of Jordan Angus and Malte Stropp beat Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek, 8-6, and then Mississippi State won the deciding point on court two, as Romain Bogaert and Zach White won 8-5 over Mike Alford and Luke Johnson.
In singles, Alford breezed through the first set, 6-1, and closed out Angus, 7-5, in the second set to even the match at 1-1 overall. Next off the courts was van Overbeek, who gave UF a 2-1 lead after beating James Chaudry, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 3 singles. Diep, playing at No. 2 singles, took down No. 50 ranked Stropp, 6-4, 6-1.
“Flo played extremely well today,” said Coach Shelton. “I think he got a lot of confidence from the Ole Miss match and really took it today and rose to the occasion. He beat a very good player. Bob put another win on the board for us today, and Mike as well. For all three of those guys to rally after the doubles was great and we had a chance.”
With three matches left on court, Florida needed just one more point to clinch a victory. After Johnson won the first set, 6-3, White won a tiebreak in the second set to force a third set. At the same time, No. 20 Bogaert defeated Piro, 6-3, 6-4, on court one to make the score 3-2.
Johnson seemed to run out of gas after the tiebreak, and White closed it out 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0. On court six, Dumont won the first set against Watson, 6-3, but the Gator responded with a 7-5 win in the second, forcing a winner-take-all third set for the team victory. After going up an early break in the set, Dumont was able to hold serve the rest of the way and win the final set, 6-4, to clinch the win.
“In this game you’ve got to seize the opportunities when they are there,” said Coach Shelton. “Today we didn’t seize them and they got the better of us. We’ll regroup and be ready again on Wednesday for Bethune-Cookman.”
The Gators will host Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., and UF will wrap up the regular season next weekend, hosting No. 8 Kentucky on Friday at 5 p.m. and No. 14 Vanderbilt on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live scoring for all three matches will be available through GatorZone.com.
April 7, 2013
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
#13 Mississippi State 4, #17 Florida 3
1. #20 Romain Bogaert (MSU) def. #125 Stephane Piro (UF), 6-3, 6-4
2. #102 Florent Diep (UF) def. #50 Malte Stropp (MSU), 6-4, 6-1
3. #117 Bob van Overbeek (UF) def. James Chaudry (MSU), 6-3, 6-4
4. Mike Alford (UF) def. Jordan Angus (MSU), 6-1, 7-5
5. Zach White (MSU) def. Luke Johnson (UF), 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-0
6. Pedro Dumont (MSU) def. Gordon Watson (UF), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
1. #15 Angus/Stropp (MSU) def. Piro/van Overbeek (UF), 8-6
2. Bogaert/White (MSU) def. Alford/Johnson (UF), 8-5
3. Diep/Watson (UF) def. Dumont/Wilkinson (MSU), 8-5
Florida 11-9, 5-5; National ranking #17
Mississippi State 15-7, 5-5; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 1, 2); Singles (4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 6)
T – 4:19