Alford

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida (7-4, 1-0) opened conference play with a 4-3 victory against No. 11 Texas A&M (9-4, 1-0) on Sunday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. It marked head coach Bryan Shelton's first victory in the SEC at the helm of the Gators' program.

"It feels great," Shelton said. "I love it. This was great for our team, great for our program. This match...was the start of a new season, the SEC season. For me, it's the first time through. To start with a win after losing four in a row, we're feeling great about it."

With the team score knotted up at three, the final point came down to the fourth singles match. Junior Mike Alford clinched the match for the Gators, rallying to defeat Texas A&M's Shane Vinsant, the 90th-ranked player in the country, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5).

UF was in an early hole after the visiting Aggies won a hotly-contested doubles point. After splitting on courts two and three, the point came down to the matchup at the first doubles position. Senior Bob van Overbeek and junior Stephane Piro came up just short, suffering a 9-8 (3) setback to Texas A&M's Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow, the 17th-ranked pair in the nation.

Alford and fellow junior Florent Diep were victorious at third doubles, defeating Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo 8-4. On court two, senior Billy Federhofer and redshirt freshman Gordon Watson suffered an 8-6 setback to A&M's Harrison Adams and Shane Vinsant, the 21st-ranked doubles tandem.

Texas A&M jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Ore defeated van Overbeek 6-4, 6-1 in first singles. UF scored its first point of the day by winning the sixth singles match. Federhofer beat A&M's Behzad Minavi 6-0, 6-4 to cut the Aggies' hold to 2-1.

Diep tied the score at two when he defeated the Aggies' Adams 6-4, 6-3 on court two. It marked Diep's first victory in singles competition since the Florida State match.

After winning the first set without dropping a single game, Piro lost the remaining two sets in a tough 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 loss to Texas A&M's Efferding. The loss at third singles gave Texas A&M a 3-2 advantage with two matches remaining.

Watson kept the host team alive, defeating A&M's Withrow 7-5, 7-6 (6) in the fifth singles slot. Watson won the next five points in the last set to take the set and match. His victory at fifth singles set the stage for Alford and the eventual UF win.