The Florida men’s tennis team stayed unbeaten on the season, winning its first road match of the year by beating Florida State, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee.
“Overall, I think it was a good day,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “We came on the road and we knew it was going to be tough test and our guys answered the call.”
The Gators improved to 6-0 on the season and will travel to Seattle later this week to play in the 2013 ITA National Indoors against some of the nation’s top teams. Florida State, ranked No. 28 in the latest poll, falls to 9-2.
Florida got off to a good start by taking the doubles point against the Seminoles, something none of FSU’s first 10 opponents had managed. Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek started with an 8-3 win over Dominic Controne and Michael Rinaldi on court three, and No. 45 Florent Diep and Michael Alford clinched the point with an 8-3 win over Jordan Kelly-Houston and Anderson Reed, 8-3, on court two.
“I was really proud of our team and the way they came out and competed from the first point in doubles,” said Coach Shelton. “We really never let them have a chance to get into the doubles matches and I felt like we did a good job on all three courts. We were pretty decisive in the way that we played, and as the matches went along we seemed to get better and better.”
UF’s Billy Federhofer and Gordon Watson led 7-4 over FSU’s Andres Bucaro and Benjamin Lock, ranked 27th as a pair, when play was halted.
“We’ve worked really hard on our doubles game and we’re making improvements,” said Shelton. “We’ve just got to continue to do that. Overall today with the doubles, I thought that we did a really good job of coming out with great energy. One of our goals was to keep their crowd quiet and I thought our guys did a great job of that.”
In singles, the Gators kept the momentum going with five first-set wins. Piro was the first to get off the court, beating Lock, 6-4, 6-2, at No. 3 singles. Watson finished right after Piro to give Florida a 3-0 lead, beating Reed, 6-2, 6-4, on court four.
“Steph got the first point for us in singles pretty decisively,” said Shelton. “He got better as the match went along and really used his whole game and got to the net a lot today and was able to execute. I was proud that he played more disciplined tennis today and executed well and got off the court.
“Gordon came out and played really well in the doubles from the very first point. In singles play, he did a nice job of jumping on [Reed] early. He had a little bit of a hiccup in the second set, but was able to gather himself and finish that match off. I was pleased that Gordon was able to take a deep breath when the guy made a charge in the second set and was able to gather himself and really finish the guy off by playing good, solid, aggressive tennis.”
Alford, playing at No. 5 singles, clinched the team victory for UF. After a tight first set, which Alford won, 7-5, he cruised in the second by a 6-1 margin.
“[Bucaro] made Mike feel uncomfortable out there in the beginning,” Shelton said. “[Bucaro] is a little bit of an unorthodox player who does a lot of different things out there on the court. It took Mike a little while to adjust and find his rhythm, but once he found it, he never looked back and kind of steamrolled the guy after that first set. Really pleased to see him out there competing and you always know what you’re going to get from him, which is going to be a solid effort. It was great to see him close that match out and clinch the win for us today.”
Rounding out the scores, van Overbeek lost at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-4, to Cotrone, while Diep beat Kelly-Houston, 7-6(4), 6-4, at No. 2 singles. At the sixth position, Federhofer dropped a third-set tiebreak to Blake Davis, losing 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5).
Florida’s will head to Seattle, Wash., this week to take part in the 2013 ITA National Indoors, beginning Friday. The event is hosted by the University of Washington at the Nordstrom Tennis Center and Seattle Tennis Club.
Tennis Match Results
Florida vs. Florida State
February 9, 2013 at Tallahassee, Fla. (Scott Speicher Tennis Center)
#11 Florida 5, #28 Florida State 2
1. #107 Dominic Cotrone (FS) def. #51 Bob van Overbeek (UF) 6-2, 6-4
2. #26 Florent Diep (UF) def. Jordan Kelly-Houston (FS) 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
3. Stephane Piro (UF) def. #99 Benjamin Lock (FS) 6-4, 6-2
4. #118 Gordon Watson (UF) def. Anderson Reed (FS) 6-2, 6-4
5. Michael Alford (UF) def. Andres Bucaro (FS) 7-5, 6-1
6. Blake Davis (FS) def. Billy Federhofer (UF) 2-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5)
1. #27 Andres Bucaro/Benjamin Lock (FS) vs. Billy Federhofer/Gordon Watson (UF) 4-7, unfinished
2. #45 Florent Diep/Michael Alford (UF) def. Jordan Kelly-Houston/Anderson Reed (FS) 8-3
3. Stephane Piro/Bob van Overbeek (UF) def. Dominic Cotrone/Michael Rinaldi (FS) 8-3
Florida 6-0; National ranking #11
Florida State 9-2; National ranking #28
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,4,5,1,2,6)