Saturday May 22, 2010Men's Tennis Falls in NCAA Tournament Round of 16
The Florida men’s tennis team fell to Georgia, 4-2, in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 on Friday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., concluding the Gators’ season with a 21-5 record.
“[Georgia’s] got national-championship caliber players at most positions,” UF head coach Andy Jackson said. “They have a great home-court advantage. They did a fabulous job of taking advantage of it. We played very hard and got beat by a very good team.”
The Gators cruised to a court three doubles victory by senior Daniel Cash (Oslo, Norway) and freshman Bob Van Overbeek (Boca Raton, Fla.), who closed the season with eight consecutive wins from the third doubles spot. However, Georgia took the doubles point with wins on courts one and two to take the early 1-0 lead.
Sophomore Nassim Slilam (Paris, France) evened the count at 1-1 with a straight-sets victory on court six over Will Reynolds.
The Bulldogs struck next as Drake Bernstein overcame dropping the first set to take the victory over Van Overbeek in three sets. But Florida again evened the match at 2-2 when freshman Sekou Bangoura Jr. (Bradenton, Fla.) closed out Christian Vitulli in straight sets.
Sophomore Joey Burkhardt (St. Augustine, Fla.) fought to keep his match on court two alive, battling back from a 4-0 second-set deficit to tie at 4-4, but Nate Schnugg was able to gather himself and close out the win for the Bulldogs.
The clincher came on court one, where junior Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France) fell in a second-set tiebreaker to Javier Garrapiz, giving Georgia the team win. Senior Antoine Benneteau (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) was still in progress against Jamie Hunt on court three when play was abandoned with Hunt holding a 4-0 lead in the third set.
In spite of the disappointing end to their season, the Gators still accomplished many impressive feats this season. They reached 21 wins for the ninth time in program history even though two matches in which UF led were rained out. UF’s five losses this season are also tied for the team’s second-fewest since 1979 (four in 2000, five in 2003).
“We didn’t even really have a team in the fall with a lot of injuries,” Jackson said. “We had a fantastic recruiting class in January, and in my opinion we’re one of the two or three best teams in the country, just not good enough to beat Georgia at Georgia tonight. I thought we had a very good season.”
From an individual standpoint, the Gators produced two All-American and All-SEC performers in Lacroix and Benneteau. Lacroix spent the bulk of the season in the top 10 nationally in both singles and doubles alongside Benneteau. UF also boasted two SEC All-Freshman Team competitors in Bangoura and Van Overbeek, who combined to win five SEC Freshman of the Week honors this year including a conference-best four by Van Overbeek.
Lacroix and Benneteau will compete in the NCAA individual tournaments, appearing together in the doubles draw while Lacroix will also contend for the singles crown. Action begins in Athens on Wednesday, May 26. The draws for those tournaments are not yet set.
Florida vs. Georgia
NCAA Round of 16
Dan Magill Tennis Complex
1 – (32) Garrapiz/Schnugg (UGA) def. (8) Benneteau/Lacroix (UF) – 8-3
2 – Hunt/Vitulli (UGA) def. (68) Bangoura/Burkhardt (UF) – 8-5*
3 – Cash/Van Overbeek (UF) def. Bernstein/Oliver (UGA) – 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*
1 – (22) Javier Garrapiz (UGA) def. (7) Alexandre Lacroix (UF) – 6-4, 7-6 (5)*
2 – (75) Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. (110) Joey Burkhardt (UF) – 7-5, 6-4
3 – Jamie Hunt (UGA) led Antoine Benneteau (UF) – 3-6, 6-1, 4-0 (DNF)
4 – (115) Drake Bernstein (UGA) def. Bob Van Overbeek – 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
5 – Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) def. Christian Vitulli (UGA) – 6-3, 6-4
6 – Nassim Slilam (UF) def. Will Reynolds (UGA) – 6-4, 6-0
Order of Finish: 6, 4, 5, 2, 1*