The University of Florida men’s tennis team ends their five-match home stand this weekend, hosting the Furman Paladins on Sunday at noon at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
“We’re looking forward to the match against Furman on Sunday,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “Furman's coach, Kelly Jones, is a great friend and a quality coach. We are looking to see improvements from our last match against UNC-Wilmington, particularly in the doubles. Our goal is to get better every single match.”
Florida (4-0), ranked 11th in the latest ITA National Team Rankings, is off to a good start in Shelton’s inaugural campaign. The Gators beat in-state rival Miami, 5-2, to open the season and followed up with back-to-back 7-0 wins over UCF and St. John’s. Last Sunday, UF beat UNC-Wilmington, 4-2, to earn a berth in the ITA National Indoors, held Feb. 15-17 in Seattle, Washington.
The Gators have been solid up and down the singles lineup. Junior Florent Diep has posted a 3-1 record at No. 1 singles, while junior Stephane Piro and senior Bob van Overbeek are a combined 6-0 mixing between the No. 2 and 3 singles positions. Junior Mike Alford and freshman Gordon Watson are also undefeated in dual matches, each holding a 3-0 record. Senior Billy Federhofer and freshman Luke Johnson are both 3-1 in dual matches.
Florida’s doubles have been a strong point in three of the first four matches. Alford and Diep, ranked 45th as a duo, have held down the top spot, while Federhofer and Watson are 2-0 in dual matches and have an 11-2 mark overall playing together. Likely playing in the third doubles spot will be Piro and van Overbeek, who are 4-1 as a pair.
Furman (1-3) enters the weekend having lost three-straight matches after winning their opener against Florida A&M, 6-1. The Paladins then traveled to Florida St., Clemson and South Carolina, dropping all three matches. Furman returned 10 players from a squad that finished 9-15-1 in 2012, finishing fifth in the Southern Conference. Senior Andrew Mellow earned first-team All-SoCon honors last season in singles.