UF men's tennis team advances to Elite 8 at NCAAs

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's Blaise Bicknell makes a return during his singles match Monday against Illinois at the NCAA D1 Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

ORLANDO — No. 1-seeded Florida powered past No. 16 Illinois 4-0 on Monday night in the Round of 16 of the NCAA men's tennis tournament at the USTA National Campus.

Florida (23-2) will play No. 8 seed Texas A&M (19-8) in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the Tennis Channel. The Aggies defeated fellow SEC school Mississippi State 4-0 on Monday.

"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," UF coach Bryan Shelton said. 

"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."

The Gators won the doubles point over Illinois (23-3) behind Johannes Ingildsen-Duarte Vale at No. 1, 6-4, and Sam Riffice-Ben Shelton at No. 2, 6-3.

Florida then rolled for straight-set wins in singles: Andy Andrade (No. 3), Blaise Bicknell (No. 4) and Josh Goodger (No. 6).

“From the beginning these guys came out with a lot of energy and they were showing like they were ready to go," Bicknell said. "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.”

The Gators own two wins over the Aggies this season, 5-2 at College Station in February and 4-3 in the semifinals of the SEC tournament in April in Fayetteville, Ark.

Doubles Results: 3, 2, 1

1. Duarte Vale/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) def. Zeke Clark/Alex Brown (ILL) 6-4

2. Sam Riffice/Ben Shelton (UF) def. Siphosothando Montsi/Noe Khlif (ILL) 6-3

3. Hunter Heck/Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) def. Brian Berdusco/Will Grant (UF) 6-4

Singles Results: 6, 3, 4

1. Duarte Vale (UF) vs. Aleks Kovacevic (ILL) 6-4, 3-6, 2-1, *unfinished*

2. Sam Riffice (UF) vs. Siphosothando Montsi (ILL) 7-6 (9-7), 2-3, *unfinished*

3.  Andy Andrade (UF) def. Alex Brown (ILL) 6-2, 6-3

4. Blaise Bicknell (UF) def. Zeke Clark (ILL) 6-3, 6-3

5. Ben Shelton (UF) vs.Hunter Heck (ILL) 4-6, 6-2, 3-2, *unfinished*

6. Josh Goodger (UF) def. Noe Khlif (ILL) 6-1, 6-3

Florida's Duarte Vale and Johannes Ingildsen react Monday during their doubles match against Illinois at the NCAA D1 Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.