Florida 4, South Carolina
Florida 4, South Carolina 0May 21, 2005
College Station, Texas -- For the fifth time in school history and the second time in three seasons, the third-ranked University of Florida mens tennis team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship with a 4-0 victory over No. 19 South Carolina in College Station, Texas, where on court temperatures reached over 100 degrees on Saturday. UFs win was its 18th in the last 19 matches and improved the Gators to 23-5 on the year. With the win, Florida will face either No. 5 Illinois or No. 18 Florida State on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
We are really excited to be in the quarterfinals, said UF head coach Andy Jackson. We had to earn it because South Carolina played us tough, particularly in the doubles. Playing in these conditions the court is slow and hot and the match is physical, however, we like that. Im not a believer the doubles is the end all be all, but it was a nice feather in our cap today.
The Gators took on both Illinois and Florida State during the regular season. After edging Florida State, 4-3, in Tallahassee in a match that lasted four and a half hours on Sunday, Feb. 6, the Gators were shutout, 7-0, the following Saturday on the indoor courts in Champaign, Illinois.
On Saturday against South Carolina, Florida jumped to an early 1-0 lead by taking the doubles point for the second time in the last five outings with wins at the top and bottom of the order. On court three, Nestor Briceno and Stefan Tell posted an 8-5 decision over Ben Atkinson and Dmitry Babenko in just over an hour to pick up their second win of the tournament and seventh on the season.
After Jordan Dolberg and Chris Brandi fell to Jaime Cuellar and Tom Eklund on court two, 8-6, Floridas eighth-ranked Hamid Mirzadeh and Greg Ouellette worked to erase a 6-2 deficit against Geraldo Knorr and Pedro Rodrigues for an 8-6 win. The victory snapped a four match losing streak by the Gator tandem whose last win came against Knorr and Rodrigues in the regular season closer where UF shutout the Gamecocks on April 16 in Columbia to earn a share of the ninth SEC title in school history.
Momentum from the doubles carried over to the singles courts where Florida picked up wins in five of six first sets. Floridas 95th-ranked Vladimir Obradovic made it 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on court three against Cuellar. Obradovic, who clinched both of the NCAA regional matches for the Gators, improved to 17-8 in dual matches this season as the junior has won six of his last seven outings.
Mirzadeh (No. 24) got UF to within one of clinching the victory with a straight set 6-4, 6-2 win of his own on court one against Eklund (No. 35). Mirzadeh, who is a senior, moved to 6-0 all-time against Gamecock players with each of his wins coming in straight sets. He also picked up his team-leading tenth victory over a ranked opponent this season.
Ryan Sherry clinched the win for UF as he took out Atkinson on court six, 6-2, 6-3. Sherry who has won 18 of his last 19 matches moved his dual record to 22-3 on the season to lead all Gators.
Florida vs. South Carolina
1. #8 Hamid Mirzadeh/Greg Ouellette (UF) def. Geraldo Knorr/Pedro Rodrigues (USC), 8-6
2. Jaime Cuellar/Tom Eklund (USC) def. Jordan Dolberg/Chris Brandi (UF), 8-6
3. Nestor Briceno/Stefan Tell (UF) def. Ben Atkinson/Dmitry Babenko (USC), 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. (#24) Hamid Mirzadeh (UF) def. (#35) Tom Eklund (USC), 6-4, 6-2
2. (#49) Greg Ouellette (UF) vs. Pedro Rodrigues (USC), DNF
3. (#95) Vladimir Obradovic (UF) def. Jaime Cuellar (USC), 6-4, 6-1
4. Nestor Briceno (UF) vs. Dmitry Babenko (USC), DNF
5. (#103) Chris Brandi (UF) vs. Geraldo Knorr (USC), DNF
6. Ryan Sherry (UF) def. Ben Atkinson (USC), 6-2, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3, 1, 6
-- Courtesy Florida