FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 41 Arkansas men’s tennis team battled, but eventually fell to eighth-ranked Florida, 5-2, Friday afternoon at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center. The Razorbacks rallied after losing the doubles point and dropping the first set in five of their six singles matches. Each singles contest was extended to three sets, but the Gators held on to pull out the victory.
In the dual loss, freshman Chris Nott picked up his 20th win of the season with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3decision over the Gators’ Tyler Hochwalt at No. 5 singles. Nott is the first Razorback freshman to earn 20 wins since Blake Strode tallied 27 victories in 2006. The Chorley, England, native is 20-12 during his first season in Fayetteville.
Florida (11-4, 6-1) swept the doubles point to take the early lead. At No. 1 doubles, Strode and Matt Hogan, playing together for the first time, lost to Greg Oullette and Jeff Dadamo, 8-3. Florida followed that up with a 8-2 win by Nestor Briceno and Alex Lacroix over Colin Mascall and Dmitry Lebedev at the second position. Hochwalt and Geoffrey Barton beat Nott and Taylor King, 8-7(2), to close out the doubles point.
“We continue to dig a hole for ourselves with the doubles point,” head coach Robert Cox said. “I thought we competed hard in singles and had some chances here and there, but we didn’t take them and against a team the caliber of Florida, you have to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Nott’s win on court five tied the dual match at 1-1. Fellow freshman Tyler Tarnasky gave the Razorbacks a brief 2-1 advantage with his victory at No. 6 singles. Tarnasky beat Erik Corace, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, just as Briceno and Lacroix were closing out their matches to give the lead back to the Gators, 3-2.
At No. 2 singles, Briceno won the first set against Mascall, but the Razorback senior fought back to force a third set. Briceno held off the comeback and beat Mascall, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Hogan and Lacroix, the No. 53 player in the nation, split the first two sets of their match to force a third. Lacroix pulled away in the final set for the win, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1.
On court one, Strode rebounded from a lopsided first set to take the second with two breaks of serve, including an Oullette service game in which he was serving for the match. In the third set, Oullette raced out to a 4-0 on his way to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Strode to clinch the dual for the Gators.
Florida’s Jeff Dadamo won a third-set tiebreak, 7-2, to beat Lebedev in the final match on court, 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(2).
Arkansas (10-9, 2-5) will return to its home courts Sunday at 12 p.m. CT to take on No. 69 South Carolina. For live stats and complete results, log on to www.hogwired.com.
#8 Florida 5, #41 Arkansas 2
March 28, 2008
*1. #3 Greg Oullette (UF) def. #90 Blake Strode (UA), 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
2. Nestor Briceno (UF) def. Colin Mascall (UA), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
3. #53 Alex Lacroix (UF) def Matt Hogan (UA), 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1
4. Jeff Dadamo (UF) def. Dmitry Lebedev (UA), 6-3, 6-7(6), 7-6(2)
5. Chris Nott (UA) def. Tyler Hochwalt (UF), 5-7, 6-1, 6-3
6. Tyler Tarnasky (UA) def. Erik Corace (UF), 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
1. Greg Oullette/Jeff Dadamo (UF) def. Blake Strode/Matt Hogan (UA), 8-3
2. Nestor Briceno/Alex Lacroix (UF) def. Colin Mascall/Dmitry Lebedev (UA), 8-2
3. Tyler Hochwalt/Geoffrey Barton (UF) def. Taylor King/Chris Nott (UA), 8-7(2)
Order of Finish: Doubles (1, 2, 3); Singles (5, 6, 2, 3, *1, 4)
* – clinching match