UF men's tennis ends season in round of 16
Published: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 4:57 p.m.
ATHENS, Ga. — Florida coach Andy Jackson knew the odds didn't favor the No. 12 Gators in their round of 16 match against No. 5 Ohio State at the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships on Friday.
But his team's strong showing early in singles play offered hope an upset might be possible.
Unfortunately for Florida, the Buckeyes were able to regroup and defeat the Gators 4-1 to advance to Sunday's semifinals.
“They're one of the premier programs in the country,” Jackson said of Ohio State. “They're very tough and they're very well coached. They played a great match. I'm proud of my team. We could have done more, but the match kind of played out like we thought it might.”
Florida lost the doubles point but captured first-set victories in four of six singles positions. The Gators wound up getting their singles point from Florent Diep, who defeated Devin McCarthy 6-4, 6-2 at No. 5, but Spencer Newman fell in three sets at No. 4 to Ille Van Engelen, and Mike Alford played gamely with a knee injury and lost in three sets at No. 6 to Connor Smith.
Bob van Overbeek and Tripper Carleton, playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles respectively, lost in straight sets. Chase Buchanan defeated van Overbeek 6-3, 6-3 and Blaz Rola downed Carleton 6-4, 6-1.
“We controlled four of the matches, and (we knew) Connor was tough at 6,” said Jackson. “But I also felt Bob and Tripper, if they could have pushed those guys at 1 and 2 more, it would have helped. But it was not for a lack of trying.”
After winning in his first set, Alford, whom Jackson said suffered a broken foot last season, was favoring both legs after a medical timeout in the third set and was rendered almost immobile, although he did not retire from the match.
“He wasn't able to move,” said Jackson of Alford. “You don't want to put a player in a dangerous situation, so obviously we didn't think it was a dangerous situation, although it might have looked like a hopeless situation.
“Strange things can happen in sports. (If) you stay out there, who knows? Maybe Connor turns an ankle or maybe you get your second wind. In many tennis matches it looks like you're dead in the water and things change. That's why he stayed out there.”
Ohio State (34-3) will face UCLA — which defeated Ole Miss 4-1 on Friday — at noon on Sunday. Florida ends its season at 16-10.