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Sunday May 15, 2011Men's Tennis Sweeps Miami, 4-0, to Reach NCAA Round of 16 as Lacroix Becomes UF's All-Time Wins Leader

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida men’s tennis completed a 4-0 sweep of Miami in second-round NCAA Tournament action at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex on Sunday. Play picked up Sunday morning in the middle of the first set of singles after the match was suspended in progress at 10:37 p.m. on Saturday due to rain.

 

The seventh-overall seed, UF next travels to Stanford, Calif., and will face 10th-seeded Kentucky in the Round of 16 on Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern. The Gators and Wildcats split their two previous meetings this season, both in Gainesville. UK defeated Florida, 4-3, in the regular season on April 1, while Florida claimed a 4-0 victory in the SEC Tournament championship on April 24.

 

“We are really excited to have the big privilege to go to Stanford, making the Sweet 16, beating one of our biggest rivals,” head coach Andy Jackson said. “We are very excited about the way things went today. The same thing that I told my team after the match was over, there's only one other thing that's more exciting in college tennis than getting to go to the Sweet 16 in men's tennis and that's to be able to go to the Sweet 16 with a team that has a chance. We believe the tournament is wide open. We believe that we have a chance.”

 

The Gators (20-8) have now advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth time in 10 seasons under Jackson. Florida also reached 20 wins for the 15th time in program history and the fourth under Jackson. UF has also won 20-plus matches for the second straight season (21-5 in 2010), the fourth time Florida has earned back-to-back 20-win seasons.

 

With wins in doubles and singles, senior Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France) became the all-time overall wins leader in UF history, tying the mark in doubles on Saturday before breaking the record with win No. 209 on Sunday. The former record of 208 was held by Justin O’Neal, who lettered from 1997-2000.

 

The match, originally scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday, did not get started until 9:09 p.m., pushed back throughout the day as thunderstorms delayed the Saturday’s earlier women’s first-round matches.

 

Despite the long delay on Saturday, Florida looked sharp claiming the doubles point in 47 minutes. Sophomore Billy Federhofer (North Miami, Fla.) and junior Nassim Slilam (Paris, France) downed Christian Blocker and Waylon Chin on court two, 8-2. UF’s 17th-ranked duo of Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura Jr. (Bradenton, Fla.) then defeated Omar Aly and Keith Crowley by an identical 8-2 margin on court one to secure a 1-0 Florida lead.

 

Play was halted at 10:37 p.m. rain fell steadily on Saturday evening with all singles matches in the middle of the first set. The teams got back on the courts under sunny skies about 12 hours later on Sunday morning and picked up where the matches stopped on Saturday.

 

Despite the overnight layoff, the Gators did not lose momentum and needed just an additional 64 minutes on Sunday to finish off the Hurricanes. Slilam posted UF’s first singles win, topping Christian Blocker 6-2, 6-2 on court two and picking up his team-best 20th dual singles win of the season.

 

Lacroix then pushed Florida to a 3-0 lead with his record-setting 6-1, 6-1 court one victory over Keith Crowley. Crowley saved multiple match points before netting Lacroix’s serve to end the match.

 

“I knew it was my last match here at Florida so there was a lot of emotion there,” Lacroix said. “I'm not trying to process right now, but obviously I spent four years here at Florida, and we are at the Sweet 16. I think we can go far. These four years have been good for my game.”

 

Freshman Spencer Newman (Miami, Fla.) then scored the clinching point for Florida on court six with a 6-0, 6-4 win against Pedro Ast. Newman now has a career-best four-match winning streak.

 

“He's playing better, he's getting more confidence and I'm not trying to put pressure on him but I do believe that in terms of the level he's playing at, he's just scratching the surface of where he can go,” Jackson said of Newman. “But it's not something that is going to be a light-switch solution. It's going to take years of which he's got a very good start, three or four months into it. I'm very excited for him in the future."

 

Follow all the Florida men’s tennis action on www.gatorzone.com, including a live interactive blog during matches, as well as on Twitter @GatorZoneTennis.

 

#8 Florida 4, #27 Miami 0

NCAA Second Round

Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex

Gainesville, Fla.

 

Doubles

1 – *#17 Bangoura/Lacroix (UF) def. Aly/Crowley (UM) 8-2 (:47)

2 – Federhofer/Slilam (UF) def. Blocker/Chin (UM) 8-2 (:40)

3 – Ast/Pavia (UM) led Butz/van Overbeek (UF) 7-6 (DNF)

Order of Finish: 2-1

 

Singles

1 – #7 Alexandre Lacroix (UF) def. Keith Crowley (UM) 6-1, 6-1 (1:20)

2 – #89 Nassim Slilam (UF) def. Christian Blocker (UM) 6-2, 6-2 (1:11)

3 – #40 Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) vs. Eduardo Pavia (UM) 6-3, 1-6 (DNF)

4 – Gabriel Flores (UM) led #118 Bob van Overbeek (UF) 7-6(3), 3-4 (DNF)

5 – Billy Federhofer (UF) led Diego Soto (UM) 6-3, 4-5 (DNF)

6 – *Spencer Newman (UF) def. Pedro Ast (UM) 6-0, 6-4 (1:28)

Order of Finish: 2-1-6

 

*Clinching point

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