Thursday April 21, 2011Men's Tennis Opens SEC Tournament with 4-0 Shutout of Arkansas
The 17th-ranked Florida men’s tennis team opened the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 4-0 win against Arkansas on Thursday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The fifth-seeded Gators move into Friday’s quarterfinals where they will face fourth-seeded and 19th-ranked Mississippi State on Friday at 3 p.m.
With the win, UF improves to 15-8 this season and will make a quarterfinal appearance in the conference tournament for the 10th consecutive year, a streak that began in 2002, head coach Andy Jackson’s first season leading the Gators.
“The level goes up drastically tomorrow, so we’ll see how we all respond,” Jackson said. “Mississippi State is among the best teams. They’re the only team in the league that beat Tennessee, and we barely beat them at State.”
Sophomore Billy Federhofer (North Miami, Fla.) and junior Nassim Slilam (Paris, France) got the Gators’ doubles efforts started with a dominant 8-3 win over Mike Ward and Nikolas Zogaj on court two that last barely over half an hour.
Florida sealed the doubles point when sophomore Bob van Overbeek (Boca Raton, Fla.) and freshman Andrew Butz (Vero Beach, Fla.) reeled off five straight games, rebounding from a 5-3 deficit to top Gregoire Lehmann and Matt Walters, 8-5.
“I feel like when we play well together, we can beat a lot of good teams,” van Overbeek said. “One thing we both bring is big serves, and if we can play solid, get good returns, good first volleys, I feel like we can compete with anybody that we’re going to play.”
Federhofer then gave the Gators their first singles win of the day, cruising to a 6-2, 6-0 court five victory over Ward, followed by a similarly strong court four performance by van Overbeek, who notched a 6-3, 6-1 win against Lehmann.
The clincher came from Florida’s eighth-ranked senior leader, Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France), who raised his arms in victory after fighting to a straight-sets win against Chris Nott to send the Gators into the quarterfinals.
“It’s my last matches at home, so I’m trying to enjoy every point of it,” Lacroix said. “I was happy, for me and for the team.”
UF defeated Mississippi State in the teams’ regular-season meeting, 4-3 in Starkville, Miss., but the Bulldogs hold the higher seed based on finishing a game ahead of the Gators in conference play. Admission to all SEC Tournament matches is free.
More information can be found on the tournament home page at http://www.gatorzone.com/tennis/men/tour/sec/2011/ and by following on twitter @GatorZoneTennis and @MTennisSEC.
#17 Florida 4, Arkansas 0
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
April 21, 2011
SEC Tournament First Round
1 – Hogan/C. Nott (Ark.) led #29 Bangoura/Lacroix (UF) 7-5 (DNF)
2 – Federhofer/Slilam (UF) def. Ward/Zogaj (Ark.) – 8-3 (:31)
3 – *Butz/van Overbeek (UF) def. Lehmann/Walters (Ark.) – 8-5 (:52)
Order of finish: 2-3
1 – #8 Alexandre Lacroix (UF) def. #117 Chris Nott (Ark.) – 6-4, 6-4 (1:26)
2 – #44 Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) led Matt Hogan (Ark.) – 7-5, 2-0 (DNF)
3 – Nikolas Zogaj (Ark.) led #93 Nassim Slilam (UF) 7-6(6), 5-0 (DNF)
4 – Bob van Overbeek (UF) def. Gregoire Lehmann (Ark.) – 6-1, 6-3 (1:17)
5 – Billy Federhofer (UF) def. Mike Ward (Ark.) – 6-2, 6-0 (1:01)
6 – Spencer Newman (UF) led Manfred Jeske (Ark.) – 6-2, 5-2 (DNF)
Order of finish: 5-4-1
*Clinched doubles point/match victory