UF men's tennis advances at NCAAs
Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 10:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 10:17 p.m.
The Florida Gators are one win away from the NCAA Round of 16 after downing Navy, 4-0, in first-round tournament action at Scott Linder Stadium Saturday.
UF, the No. 12 overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, improved to 15-9 with a quick and precision-like sinking of the Midshipmen, who finished their season at 18-9.
Florida took the doubles point to open the match by virtue of wins at No. 1 from the tandem of senior Nassim Slilam and junior Tripper Carleton (8-4) and at No. 2 from the duo of junior Bob van Overbeek and sophomore Spencer Newman (8-3) and never looked back.
“It's very important in team tournaments to get the first point on the board, and we did that by taking the doubles,” UF head coach Andy Jackson said. “That's obviously a big part of any match to get that momentum going.”
The Gators carried that momentum into singles led by Slilam, the team's lone senior, who took just 35 minutes to complete a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of Navy's Peter McDonald at No. 3 singles and stake UF to an early 2-0 lead.
“I've been practicing the past two weeks really well and with a lot of intensity, and today I played really solid,” Slilam said. “I didn't miss a ball. My serve was good and my return was good.”
“He's a superior talent and he played disciplined,” Jackson said. “He was obviously good today.”
Van Overbeek put Florida a point away from victory a few minutes later by finishing off Navy's Marcus Rebersak at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-0, and sophomore Florent Diep, who like Slilam is from Paris, France, provided the clincher for the Gators by closing out the Middies' Nicholas Gutsche at the No. 5 spot with a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Florida was comfortably ahead in the three remaining singles matches as Carleton, Newman and sophomore Michael Alford all had won their first sets and were ahead in their second sets.
With the win, UF advanced to the second round today where the Gators will meet Harvard, which outlasted Virginia Tech, 4-2, in a marathon opening match that was quite the opposite of Florida's short contest.
The Crimson and Gators will square off at 2 p.m. The two programs have met six times previously, with the all-time series tied at 3-all.
The Ivy League champions, ranked No. 23, are 23-2 after ending the season for Virginia Tech (11-12).
While Jackson was pleased with the efficiency of UF's win, he is wary of the Crimson.
“I think that's important because obviously Virginia Tech and Harvard battled for almost four hours,” Jackson said of Florida's short match. “But the character of Harvard's team shines through. I watched quite a bit of that match. They will be right in our face, and we know it.
“We're looking forward to the challenge. It's going to be hot again, which is good for us, and we're going to try and make it a physical match.”
Today's winner advances to the Athens, Ga., for the remainder of the NCAA Championships.
“Navy won their conference (Patriot League), and we were prepared, which is a sign of respect for Navy,” Jackson noted. “We also know we're better than Navy, and the competition level will go up drastically against a Top 25 team like Harvard.
“We're looking forward to securing a spot in Athens for the Round of 16.”