Weather update from Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex: Florida State defeated UCF 4-3 in the first match. The UF-FGCU match started at 3:20 p.m.
By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
The Florida men’s tennis team garnered the No. 3 overall seed for the NCAA Division I Championship and will host matches at the Varsity Courts today and Saturday.
Due to rain forecasts for the area, starting times have been moved up. Florida State (18-10) and UCF (15-10), originally slated for noon, will start at 9 a.m. and will be followed by the match between No.4-ranked UF (21-3) and Florida Gulf Coast (14-8) at noon instead of 3 p.m. The two winners will meet Saturday for the regional title and right to advance to the Sweet 16.
“We’re excited,” UF coach Bryan Shelton said. “These guys have worked extremely hard over this past couple of weeks to prepare for this tournament.
“We understand that this is a great opportunity to be able to host this thing. We have some great competition coming in here, so I think we’re going to have some really good tennis.”
This marks the fourth consecutive season Florida has been selected as a host for the NCAA Championship first and second rounds. The Gators, the 2019 regular-season SEC champs, enter with a 51-28 all-time record in the tournament and have advanced to the NCAA semifinals twice (2005 and 2000).
“This is the most fun part of the year,” sophomore Duarte Vale said. “We’re all really excited and have prepared really well. We feel ready and confident.”
As the three-seed, UCF is making its fourth NCAA Championship appearance. UCF will face second-seed FSU, which earned an at-large bid after falling to Virginia in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. The Seminoles are making their 17th consecutive NCAA appearance.
UF takes to the courts in the second match of the day against FGCU. The Eagles, the No. 4 regional seed, clinched an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the 2019 ASUN Championship. They will be making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years of Division I postseason eligibility. FGCU is 0-2 all-time with appearances in 2015 and 2017.
“I think the guys realize that once you get in a finishing position, you’ve got to continue to play and race across the finish line,” Shelton noted. “The things that help you get there, those are some of the things we focused in on over the last couple of weeks. We’re making sure we have the right thoughts in those moments and have a plan of attack. We want to go out there with a positive mindset and execute. Don’t start the point until you’re there mentally.”
This is 29th year in a row UF has made the NCAA Championship field and the program has been selected to host the first and second round matches 15 of the last 19 years since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999.
“Obviously we put ourselves in position to play the first two matches at home,” Vale said. “If we get to the final stages, they’re in Orlando, so we’re really looking forward to that. Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd and have a solid home-court advantage.”
What: First and second round of the NCAA men’s tennis championship
Who: Florida State 4, UCF 3
Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast
Where: Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex on UF campus
FSU vs. UF-FGCU winner play, 2 p.m.