The 14th-ranked Florida men’s tennis team opened the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 4-0 win over No. 17 South Carolina on Friday morning in Oxford, Miss. The Gators, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will play in Saturday’s semifinal at 11 a.m. ET against the winner of Friday’s match between Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
“Our guys came out ready to go this morning,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “It was cold and windy but we didn’t let that or anything else get in our way. We have to stay focused for tomorrow and stay the course. Our goal is to get better every single day.”
Florida got started with solid doubles play, just as they did in the March 8 matchup with the Gamecocks in Columbia, which South Carolina won 4-3. Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek, ranked 37th in doubles in the latest ITA Rankings, finished first with an 8-3 win over 14th-ranked Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov at the No. 1 position. Florent Diep and Gordon Watson then clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 win over South Carolina’s Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro at No. 3 doubles.
Mike Alford and Luke Johnson led 7-6 on court two when their match was halted.
In the previous meeting between the two teams, the Gamecocks rebounded after losing the doubles point by winning four singles matches to take the victory. On Friday, Diep and Adams were the only two players to have a rematch, as both teams have shuffled their lineups as the season progressed. The changes paid off for the Gators, as they jumped out in singles by winning the first set on four of six courts.
Piro, who has moved up to No. 68 in the singles rankings, beat 39th-ranked Mihov in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to give the Gators a 2-0 lead overall in the match. Diep continued his strong play, winning the rematch with Adams 6-1, 6-4 on court two. Adams won the previous meeting in three sets back in March.
One point away from advancing to the semifinals, Alford and Johnson were both close to finishing off their matches. Alford came through first, finishing off Kyle Koch 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.
Saturday’s semifinal will begin at 11 a.m. ET against the winner of Friday’s match between No. 2-seed Tennessee and No. 7-seed Vanderbilt. Live scoring will be available through the Ole Miss web site’s tournament page.
April 19, 2013
Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center/Galtney Courts
#14 Florida 4, #17 South Carolina 0
1. #68 Stephane Piro (UF) def. #39 Tsvetan Mihov (SC), 6-2, 6-2
2. #89 Florent Diep (UF) def. #80 Andrew Adams (SC), 6-1, 6-4
3. #113 Bob van Overbeek (UF) vs. Thiago Pinheiro (SC), 6-7, 2-3 unfinished
4. Mike Alford (UF) def. Kyle Koch (SC), 6-2, 6-4
5. Gordon Watson (UF) vs. Chip Cox (SC), 2-6, 6-4, 0-1, unfinished
6. Luke Johnson (UF) vs. Harry Menzies (SC), 6-4, 6-5 unfinished
1. #37 Piro/van Overbeek (UF) def. #14 Cox/Mihov (SC), 8-3
2. Alford/Johnson (UF) led #50 Koch/Menzies (SC), 7-6 unfinished
3. Diep/Watson (UF) def. Adams/Pinheiro (SC), 8-5
Florida 15-9, 7-5; National Ranking #14
South Carolina 18-10, 7-5; National Ranking #17
Order of finish: Doubles (1, 3); Singles (1, 2, 4)