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UF Men’s Tennis: Florida Advances to NCAA Quarterfinals

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY TOMMY SCOTT

Gators sweep Illinois in tough No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup

No. 1-seeded Florida (23-2) swept No. 16-seeded Illinois (23-3), 4-0, on Monday night at the USTA National Campus in the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

With their win, the top-seeded Gators will play No. 8-seeded Texas A&M (19-8) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET at the USTA National Campus in the NCAA Quarterfinals. This match is scheduled to be televised on the Tennis Channel.

The Aggies earned their way to the NCAA Quarterfinals with a 4-0 win over Mississippi State on Monday night.

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UF has played and defeated TAMU twice this season, winning 5-2 in College Station, Texas, on Feb. 28 and 4-3 in the semifinal of the SEC Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark. on Apr. 22.

Florida picked up the doubles point with victories on courts No. 1 and No. 2 and got wins in singles on courts No. 3, No. 4, and No. 6 en route to a dominant victory over the Big Ten champions.

Duarte Vale and Johannes Ingildsen moved to 2-0 as a doubles pairing, while the partnership of Sam Riffice and Ben Shelton improved to 8-2 on the year.

Andy Andrade’s win on No. 3 was his 25th singles victory this season, as he holds a 25-7 overall record.

Blaise Bicknell (30-0) and Josh Goodger (21-0) made quick work of their opponents on No. 4 and No. 6 as both remained undefeated in singles this year.

With two sweeps in their bag already, the Gators have won their first three matches in the NCAA Tournament by a combined score of 12-1.

Quotables

Head Coach Bryan Shelton

On tonight’s match…
“We got a lot of respect for that team. They are the grittiest team that we see outside of our conference. Brad Dancer, Marcos Asse, those guys coach those guys up, and they get better throughout the season. To win a Big Ten championship, when you’re going against Michigan, Ohio State, that says a lot. So those guys had a great season. For us to come out here tonight and have a comprehensive win like we did says a lot about our team, about the character of our guys and just how hard we’ve worked as well. We’re just so fortunate to be in this situation. Our commissioner in the SEC and all of our universities did so much work to get us playing in the fall and being able to play in the spring, so we’re just really thankful to our administration, to all the people who have worked so hard to put on an event like this. We’re just happy for the opportunity to be here.”

On the maturity of the team…
“This I feel is a team that has great leadership with our two captains, Duarte Vale and Sam Riffice. They lead the way. They lead by example. They do it every day in practice. I feel like they just help us get really prepared for match days, and even our younger guys are just so amped up and so ready to play, but at the same time can focus in. That’s what you want. You want the physical attributes to come out and shine, but you also want the mental skills – the ability to focus and the ability to play the right shot at the right time in the big moments. I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”

On the quarterfinal matchup vs. Texas A&M…
“We’ve played them a couple times this year already. We know them very well. They know us. Every time we play those guys it’s a battle. They’re tough from top to bottom. They’ve got a lot of experience on that team. They’ve got some senior leaders in Vacherot and Habib and Aguilar. They’re just a tough, gritty team as well, so we know we’ll have our work cut out for us, but I like my guys. I like my guys a lot.”

Sophomore Blaise Bicknell

On tonight’s match…
“Well from the beginning these guys came out with a lot of energy and they were showing like they were ready to go. We didn’t let any of that bother us and we really went after them from the beginning. In doubles, Duarte, Jo, Ben, and Sam were great. And then just from there we kept the momentum going and it was a great team effort overall.”

On his mindset heading into the quarterfinals…
“Stay the course. We know what we have and we know everything we can use. Just go as one team and go through them.”

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