Florida men's tennis team earns hard-fought SEC Tournament title
Win four matches in four days.
That's the challenge the Florida men's tennis team was faced with when the SEC Men's Tennis Tournament began in Gainesville last Thursday.
In order to win it all, the Gators needed to win four matches in four consecutive days.
So when the Gators secured a 4-0 victory over Kentucky Sunday afternoon - at their own Ring Tennis Complex - to earn the championship, Florida coach Andy Jackson said the team's wild celebration was a reflection of the emtions that have accompanied the tough season they've endure.
It is the fourth SEC Tournament title for the men's team since the event began in 1990, Florida's first since 2005. The Gators also won in 1994 and 2000.
"I was extremely happy for them becasuse they've worked very hard,'' Jackson said Monday morning. "That's a level of success, just putting your heart into things and investing in things. It's not like we weren't successful (this season), but we lost a lot of close matches and we felt like we should be achieving more. . . .So I was very, very happy for them because they put in a lot of work and they were able to see a tangible result.''
The Gators (18-8) came into the SEC Tournament as the No. 5 seed and without a first-round bye, but defeated three higher seeds, including top-seeded Tennessee in the semifinals and No. 3-seed UK (26-8) in the final. Jackson’s squad became just the second team in
the 22-year history of the event to win the championship with four victories in four days without the benefit of a first-round bye. The
other team to do so was Mississippi State in 1996 - incidentally also coached by Jackson who was the head coach for othe Bulldogs at the time.
Listen to Jackson talk about the significance of this title and why the celebration was so special.