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UF Men’s Tennis: Gators Sweep Texas, Advance to NCAA Championship

Freshman Ben Shelton and his father, Gators head coach Bryan Shelton, celebrate after Ben’s victory over Chih Chi Huang of Texas on Friday night in the NCAA semifinals. (Photo: Manuela Davies/USTA)

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SCOTT CARTER

Florida grabbed early advantage by taking doubles point and didn’t let up

The Gators men’s tennis team is going where no team in program history has gone.

To the national championship.

The No. 1-seed Gators beat No. 4 Texas, 4-0, on Friday night in the national semifinals, avenging a loss to the Longhorns in the Final Four two years ago. Texas went on to win the national title that year. The Gators hope to do the same Saturday when they face No. 2 Baylor, which defeated Tennessee in Friday’s first national semifinal match at the USTA National Campus.

The Gators (25-2) were hot from the start on Friday, winning the doubles point. In singles, freshman Ben Shelton was the first UF player to win, defeating Chih Chi Huang 6-3, 6-0 at No. 5 singles.

Florida’s next victory came at No. 4 singles when Blaise Bicknell defeated Texas’ Cleeve Harper 6-1, 7-5. With anticipation building toward a Gators victory, both Duarte Vale and Andy Andrade had match points that the Longhorns survived.

However, Andrade rebounded quickly in the next game to defeat Siem Woldeab at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 7-5 to send the Gators into the national title match on Saturday night.

“It’s special. I think we have a really special team,” UF coach Bryan Shelton said. “Everyone has worked so hard to put us in this position.”

For Andrade, it was his third time in the NCAA Tournament that he has clinched a win for the Gators.
“Right now I’m playing with a lot of confidence,’’ he said. “I have so much trust in our guys.”

2021 NCAA MEN’S TENNIS TOURNAMENT FINAL
Opponent: Baylor Bears (No. 2 seed)
Date/Time: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: USTA National Campus
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