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UF Men’s Tennis: Gators Stun No. 6 Wake Forest in Comeback Fashion, 4-1

Press release from UF Athletic Association

Florida concluded a 2-1 weekend at ITA National Team Indoors in Madison, Wis. after a comeback victory over the Demon Deacons

The No. 3-ranked Florida men’s tennis team concluded a 2-1 weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships for the first time since 2010, picking up a pair of top-10 victories on the way, as the fifth-seeded Gators would rally from behind to drop No. 6 Wake Forest, 4-1, in Sunday’s consolation matches at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium. The Gators didn’t waver after dropping the doubles point, climbing back with a trio of straight-set singles wins prior to junior Duarte Vale clinching the victory for UF in a three-set battle. Florida moves to 11-2 on the season heading into Southeastern Conference play, as Wake Forest drops to 8-3 overall.

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No. 24 Will Grant and Johannes Ingildsen opened doubles, pushing an early advantage for the Gators in corraling a 6-2 effort over Wake’s Melios Efstathiou and Taha Baadi, while adding their fifth win in No. 2 doubles and seventh overall together on the year. However, in No. 3 doubles, juniors Duarte Vale and Josh Goodger would squander a 5-4 lead, as the Demon Deacons would manage to rattle off three straight games to knot things up – shifting focus to No. 1 doubles.

Oliver Crawford and Sam Riffice found themselves in a 3-5 hole, though, but the Gators’ 13th-ranked tandem managed to hold, then consequently break the Demon Deacons in deadlocking the match at 5-5. Wake’s Eduardo Nava and Henri Squire would, however, weather the comeback, returning the favor with a hold and break of their own to go on and grant Wake Forest the doubles point, 1-0.

Despite dropping their second consecutive doubles point, the Gators came into singles spirited, grabbing five first-set victories, determined to overcome a repeat of Saturday’s match against UNC. No. 1, 3 and 4 singles would extend into third sets, though Vale would deliver down the stretch to seal the deal and complete the comeback for the blue and orange.

Josh Goodger earned the first win for the Gators in No. 5 singles, tying the match at 1-1 after dropping Nava, 6-2, 6-1, to pick up his first win at the No. 5 position.

Co-captain No. 4 Sam Riffice then gave UF the lead with a straight-set decision on court two over the Demon Deacons’ Squire, 6-3, 6-2, to add his fifth win from the position. Shortly after, sophomore No. 90 Lukas Greif then extended the Gators’ lead with a top-100 win over No. 100 Siddhant Banthia, 7-5, 6-3, to put the Gators in the driver’s seat with the 3-1 advantage.

Juniors Oliver Crawford, Andy Andrade, and Duarte Vale all found themselves in third sets on their respective courts. Andrade was the lone Gator to drop a first set, though he would win a break to split and stay alive in No. 4 singles. Meanwhile, the opposite occurred for No. 23 Crawford and No. 11 Vale, though Vale would go on to find a second wind down 2-3 in the third to claim four straight games over Wake’s Baadi and secure the 4-1 victory for Florida, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The win marks Vale’s 10th win of the year for the Gators, while picking up his sixth from the No. 3 position.

QUOTABLES

Head Coach Bryan Shelton:
On the finish to the weekend with comeback win over Wake Forest…
“What a fantastic finish to our weekend! Really proud of our players and staff. Everyone did a phenomenal job leading up to and during this weekend. I’d like to thank Kate Harte [Director of Tennis Operations] for organizing so many things and being the ultimate professional. Our guys played their hearts out tonight when our backs were against the wall. Wake Forest has an abundance of talent and are gritty competitors, but our resilience and grit was off the charts tonight!”

On players battling through singles and Duarte Vale’s clinch…
“It was so much fun coaching our guys tonight. All of our guys were terrific and it was special to see Duarte clinch yet another big match for us. We dedicate this match to Armi Neely as well! Get better Armi and can’t wait to see you back in Gainesville!”

UP NEXT:

  *   The Gators prepare for Southeastern Conference play, preparing to welcome Alabama to the Alfred A. Ring Complex on Friday, Feb. 28, for a 5 p.m. matchup.