Thursday March 14, 2013Men's Tennis Hits the Road for Two Top-10 Opponents
The Florida men’s tennis team continues its five-match span on the road this weekend, traveling to No. 5 Georgia on Friday and No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday. The Gators are 7-5 on the season and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference entering this weekend’s matches.
“We’re excited about this coming weekend, getting back out there on the road,” said head coach Bryan Shelton this week. “We play two top-10 teams, go to UGA on Friday and then follow that up with a match at Tennessee. Two great opportunities for our team to bounce back after losing at South Carolina.”
After beginning SEC play with a 4-3 win over No. 11 Texas A&M, Florida lost a tight match last Friday at South Carolina, 4-3, in Columbia in its first of five-straight matches on the road.
“We had a tough one this past weekend,” said Shelton. “We had some success in the doubles so we got off to a good start. Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed as a coaching staff that our guys came out a little flat in the singles and it really cost us. South Carolina played very well and they did what they had to do to win. I give them a lot of credit for coming back after losing the doubles point.”
Georgia (10-4, 2-1 SEC) split two matches last weekend, falling 4-3 to No. 9 Ole Miss on Friday in Oxford before defeating No. 11 Mississippi State on Sunday by a 4-0 score in Starkville. The Bulldogs have five wins over top 25-ranked opponents this season, and their four losses have all come to top 10 teams. Senior KU Singh, ranked No. 7 in singles, leads UGA with a 4-1 record at the No. 1 spot in the lineup. Sophomore Nathan Pasha, who leads the Bulldogs with 21 singles wins this season, is ranked No. 39 in the latest ITA rankings.
Coach Shelton, who has coached in Athens numerous times as the head women’s coach at Georgia Tech, knows that the Gators will have a tough environment on Friday night.
“It’s one of those situations where we have to create our own excitement,” said Coach Shelton. “Everybody that gets on that bus with us headed to Athens has got to bring it. That goes all the way to the trainer, every one of the coaches and everyone that travels with us. We’ve got to bring our own energy out there to the court. I think that for us, we look at it as a huge opportunity.
“An opportunity to go out on the road and try to steal one from the favorite. They’re certainly favored in this match based on what they’ve already done this season. It’s a great opportunity for us to just go out there and swing away. We certainly have the talent on our squad to be successful so it’s a matter of executing.”
The Tennessee Volunteers (14-5, 1-2 SEC) also split matches against No. 11 Mississippi State and No. 8 Ole Miss on the road last weekend, beating the Bulldogs and then losing to the Rebels by 4-2 scores. The Vols began the year with a nine-match win streak that included four wins over ranked opponents and have only lost five times, all against top-10 teams. Tennessee is led by a pair of highly ranked sophomores, as Mikelis Libietis ranks sixth in the nation and Hunter Reese is ranked No. 29.