Friday May 13, 2011Men's Tennis Opens NCAA Tournament with 4-0 Sweep of South Carolina State
The seventh-seeded Florida men’s tennis team advanced through the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 win over South Carolina State on Friday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The Gators meet Miami Saturday at 3 p.m. in second round action. The winner of that match advances to the Round of 16 at this year’s championship site, Stanford University.
“We’re pleased to be in the second round of the NCAA,” head coach Andy Jackson said. “Getting into the NCAA Tournament is not something they give away in men’s tennis. Everybody doesn’t get in. We got in. We earned the right to play a team that we’re better than. We beat the team that we’re better than. We’re in the second round. It’s an achievement. It’s something that I’m proud of the guys for being able to do. Tomorrow, obviously, the level goes up drastically to close to a top-25 team, one of our biggest rivals who beat us the last time we played them in a crushing defeat, one that really stung. We’ll have to be super-ready and play much better than we played today, or the same result will happen as two years ago.”
Seeing their first match action after a three-week layoff, the Gators scored the doubles point with wins on courts one and two. Sophomore Billy Federhofer (North Miami, Fla.) and junior Nassim Slilam (Paris, France) posted an 8-5 victory at the second position before the 17th-ranked pair of sophomore Sekou Bangoura Jr. (Bradenton, Fla.) and senior Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France) clinched the point on court one with an 8-4 win over Gabriel Meana and Peteris Vinogradovs.
“It’s hard to play again after two weekends off with no competition after the SEC Tournament,” said Lacroix. “Just practicing every day, it’s hard to get back to it, but I think we played good. We did the job and didn’t lose too much energy and [will] be ready for tomorrow.”
With Friday’s doubles win, Lacroix became the first player in program history to reach 100 career doubles victories. It also marked his 207th overall career win, one shy of Justin O’Neal’s school record.
“That’s something that I’m extremely proud of him and [assistant coach] Jeremy Bayon, all the work that they’ve done to develop his doubles,” Jackson said. “It really helps us with our other guys, as I’ve said many times this year, because he learned how to play doubles at the University of Florida, and we’ve got some other guys that we need to have go down that same path. He’s a great leader, and I’m very proud of him for getting that 100.”
Florida carried its momentum into singles play as freshman Spencer Newman (Miami, Fla.) posted a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win on court six against David Grund. Newman now holds a three-match winning streak, tied for his career high.
“It’s just a buildup of the season,” said Newman. “You play better as the season goes on, and you rise to the occasion. That’s what I’m trying to do…I start over every day and come out and try to do the right things. When you do the right things, the results just follow.”
Slilam, playing his first career singles dual match at the No. 2 position, picked up UF’s third point with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Dymtro Kovalevych. Moments later, Bangoura sealed the Gator shutout with a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Anton Protsenko on court three.
Miami defeated Nebraska, 4-3, earlier in the day on Friday to advance to the second round. The Gators and Hurricanes’ last meeting came on May 9, 2009, when UM scored a 4-3 win in the NCAA second round in Gainesville.
#8 Florida 4, South Carolina State 0
NCAA First Round
Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex
May 13, 2011
1 – #17 Bangoura/Lacroix (UF) def. Meana/Vinogradovs (SCSU) 8-4 (:54)
2 – Federhofer/Slilam (UF) vs. Kovalevych/Protsenko (SCSU) 8-5 (:47)
3 – Butz/van Overbeek (UF) led Grund/Nikitin (SCSU) 7-5 (DNF)
Order of Finish: 2-1
1 – #7 Alexandre Lacroix (UF) led Gabriel Meana (SCSU) 6-2, 4-5 (DNF)
2 – #89 Nassim Slilam (UF) def. Dymtro Kovalevych (SCSU) 6-1, 6-3 (1:06)
3 – *#40 Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) def. Anton Protsenko (SCSU) 6-2, 6-1 (1:06)
4 – #118 Bob van Overbeek (UF) led Peteris Vinogradovs (SCSU) 7-5, 1-1 (DNF)
5 – Billy Federhofer (UF) led Artemiy Nikitin (SCSU) 5-4 (DNF)
6 – Spencer Newman (UF) def. David Grund (SCSU) 6-1, 6-1 (:57)
Order of Finish: 6-2-3